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*B E77 D2E 





• • 

Statement by the 
I Royal Society 
for the 
Protection of Birds. 













Printed and Published for 
The Royal Society for the Peotection of Birds 
'* 23 Queen Anne's Gate, S.W., by 
Witherby & Co., 326 High Holborn, W.C. 

April, 1911. 




Artificial Ospreys. 

Scientific Evidence — Society's Investigations — No Reply . . . . 39 

The Moulted Plume. 

Inferiority of Picked-up Plumes — China — Egret " Farms " — South 
America — Consular Returns — Mr. Leon Laglaize — The Heron's 
Nest — Evidence of Recent Travellers — Protection of Heron in 
Apur^ — Birds of the Lower Amazon — Of the Argentine — 
Demerara — Brazil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 


The Herons and Egrets of Florida. 

Trade Statements — Evidence of Mr. W. E. D. Scott — Mr. Gilbert 

Pearson — Mr. H. K. Job — Mr. F. M. Chapman — Mr. J. A. Dimock 54 


" The Story of the Egret." 

Destruction of Herons in Australia — Trade Statements — Evidence of 

Colonel Ryan and Mr. A. H. Mattingley . . . . . . . . 59 


Exportation from India. 

Bird Protection in India — Action of Government of Madras — Wild 
Birds Protection Act of 1887 — Government Enquiry — Prohibition 
of Export 61 



Trade Statement — How Feathers come from India — Ospreys and 

Horsehair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 


The Bird-of-Paradise . . . . 65 


Text of Plumage Bills 72 

Feathers and Facts. 



The facts concerning the trade in birds and their feathers for 
milHnery purposes have been repeatedly stated by the Royal 
Society for the Protection of Birds and by kindred Societies in 
Europe, America (North and South), India and other parts of the 
world. Now that there is a fair prospect of a law being obtained 
to prohibit the importation into Great Britain of the plumage 
of species which are being destroyed solely for their feathers, the 
*' Trade," alarmed at the threatened loss of their profits, are 
industriously engaged in scattering their letters, circulars, 
and pamphlets broadcast over the country. 

It therefore becomes necessary to recapitulate the facts, in 
reply to the statement of defence in their latest pubUcation — 
*' The Feather Trade " * ; to deal yet once more with their old 
mis-statements, and with such of their new assertions as have 
any bearing on the subject. Much that is irrelevant is introduced 
by writers representing the trade ; much about the spread of 
civiUzation as a cause of the extirpation of birds, and much in 
denunciation of pheasant preservation and of big-game hunting 
in Africa. 

The question to be dealt with is the destruction of wild- bird life 
by plume-hunters. This is infinitely the greatest cause, probably 
of any, certainly of any of the preventable causes of the destruc- 
tion of wild-bird life throughout the world. 

* " The Feather Trade : The Case for the Defence.** By C. F. Downham. 
(Sciama & Co.). 


The plume- trade, though now extensive and lucrative, is not 
an old one, and it remains in but a few hands, so that in dealing 
with it there are not the difficulties which might be involved in 
touching an old-estabhshed industry, or an industry affecting 
a large number of shareholders or of workpeople. (See page 30.) 
As the business has attained to any magnitude only since about 
1870,* it is easy to trace its grow^th and its methods. 

Present Policy of the Trade. 

The present pohcy of the traders is to try to shut the door on 
all past experience, to decry all evidence as ** many years old," 
to stigmatize it as deahng with *' conditions which have no 
existence to-day," and to ask the public to accept a brand-new 
version for which they themselves are the sole evidence. This 
is hardly the way in which to consider a serious subject ; but as 
past history scarcely inspires confidence in statements of to-day 
or in the outlook for to-morrow, no surprise can be felt that it 
is the way recommended by the party which is nervously anxious 
to be trusted. 



In 1876 Professor Newton wrote to the " Times " (January 
28th) : 

" Like others of my brother naturalists, I have been long 
aware by report of the enormous sales of birds' feathers 
which are being constantly held in London ; but the par- 
ticulars of them do not, except by accident, conie before us. 
Chance has thrown in my way a catalogue, or portion of a 
catalogue, of one of these auctions, and its contents are such 
as to horrify me, for I had no conception of the amount of 
destruction to which exotic birds are condemned by fashion 
— an amount which cannot fail speedily to extirpate some 
of the fairest members of creation, for I must premise, for 
the benefit of your non-ornithological readers, that it is 

* " The fancy feather-trade did not exist in the years 1860-70."—" The Feather 
Trade," p. 9. 

chiefly, if not solely, at the breeding-season that the most 
beautiful, and therefore the most valuable, feathers are 
developed in birds." 

Most of the feathers enumerated in this catalogue were Heron 
and Egret plumes from India, and Humming-birds and other 
exotic species from South America and its islands. 

Professor Newton himself was mainly responsible for the 
Sea Birds Preservation Act of 1868, which put a check on the 
killing of Kittiwakes on British coasts for the sake of their wings 
(though even this destruction is not wholly suppressed). Since 
that time the foreign trade has attained huge proportions ; and 
few parts of the world where birds of any commercial value exist 
have escaped the attentions of the plume-hunter. The principal 
areas of destruction have been India, South America, especially 
Brazil and Venezuela ; North America, especially Florida ; 
China, Burmah, and New Guinea. But from the slopes of the 
Himalayas, where the Impeyan Pheasant (*) has been decimated, 
to the small islands of the Pacific, where colonies of graceful 
Terns and lordly Albatross (-]-) have been shot out, and from the 
Australian bush, in which the Lyi^e-bird (f) tries in vain to 
shelter, to the steppes of Russia, where the Willow Grouse (J) 
has been shot by the thousand, that its wings might be sold at 
three farthings a pair, the emissaries of the trade have been at 
work. London and New York sale-rooms have seen the result. 

The Movement in America, 

In 1885 Mr. Sennett, of the American Ornithologists' Union, 
called the attention of American ornithologists to the rapid dis- 
appearance of native birds owing to their use for millinery, and, 
as a result, the American Ornithologists' Union Bird-Protection 
Committee was organized in 1886. In 1886 also the first Audubon 
Society was formed in Massachusetts, having as its object : 

*' To discourage buying and wearing for ornamental 
purposes the feathers of any wild bird, and to further other- 
wise the protection of our native birds. We would awaken 

♦ Page 25. f Page 23. t Page 29. 


the community to the fact that this fashion of wearing 
feathers means the cruel slaughter of myriads of birds, and 
that some of our finest birds are already decimated." 

There are now over thirty of these State societies in North 

Bird Destruction in Florida. 

In 1887 a series of articles appeared in the " Auk," the organ 
of the American Ornithologists' Union, by Mr. W. E. D. Scott, 
a well-known ornithologist and traveller, describing the vast 
destruction of Egrets, Spoonbill, Tantalus, Flamingo, Ibises, 
Terns, and other birds by plume-hunters in Florida. He records 
the shooting out of Heron and Pelican colonies, and the ravaging 
of the whole coast of West Florida in the breeding-season, by 
plume-hunters, who collected not only the nuptial plumes of the 
Herons, but also breeding Plover, Owls, Terns, Sandpipers, and 
any other small species that came in their way. 

Further indisputable evidence of the slaughter of the Florida 
Egrets and other birds has been furnished by Mr. F. M. Chapman, 
of the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. H. K. Job, 
State Ornithologist for Connecticut, and other writers. They 
describe the Heron and Egret colonies now struggling back into 
existence by means of the strongest bird-protection laws that can 
be made — laws backed up by the presence of armed wardens to 
guard the breeding- places. They describe also occasional raids of 
hunters on some newly-discovered rookery, which is then swiftly 
*' shot out " before the would-be guardians can reach it. 

" The whole business of the slaughter of the white Herons 
for their plumes for millinery purposes," writes Mr. Job 
C Wild Wings," p. 144), '' is one that every lover of nature 
and every person of humane feeling who understands the 
case will regard as no less than infamous. The origin of the 
trade is ignorance on one side and greed for money on the 
other, and there is not one true w ord which can be said in its 
Fuller particulars of this devastation of Florida will be given 
later (see page 54), because the case of the Egret is one especially 

dear to the dealer, and one round which he has woven his most 
ingenious inventions. Mr. Downham's main reply to the sicken- 
ing accounts (the adjective is Professor Newton's) given by 
naturalists, is that Florida is a sort of suburb, which is now being 
*' developed" ; that the Egrets have retreated just as foxes have 
migrated from Hampstead Heath and partridges from Peckham ; 
that there never were many ; that there still are many ; that 
the feather-trade is not responsible for the decrease ; that the 
birds were not shot at breeding-time (see pp. 22, 54, 56, 58, etc.). 

The stories of the '' artificial " osprey and the " moulted " 
plumes will also be considered later on (pp, 39, 41). 


In 1893 Professor Newton's *' Dictionary of Birds " was pub- 
lished. Under the heading '' Extermination," he again com- 
mented on the plume-market. The way that this article is treated 
in *' The Feather Trade " is an example of the methods 
employed for the defence. Professor Newton showed that 
civilization and agriculture naturally result in the clearance of 
land and consequent reduction in the number of wild creatures 
that had their homes and obtained their food in marsh or forest. 
This part of the argument is approved by the trade, who, 
as already said, picture American States and South American 
countries as similar regions to Hampstead or Tooting. Man has 
come ; birds must ^* migrate." But Professor Newton adds : 

" One other cause which threatens the existence of many 
species of birds, if it has not already produced the extermina- 
tion of some, is the rage for wearing their feathers that now 
and again seizes civilized women, who take their ideas of 
dress from interested milliners of both sexes — persons who, 
having bought a large stock of what are known as * plumes,' 
proceed to make a profit by declaring them to be in fashion. 
The tender-hearted ladies who buy them Httle suspect that 
some of the large supplies required by the * plume-trade ' are 
chiefly got by laying waste the homes of birds that breed 

gregariously, and that at their very breeding-time 

All efforts to awaken the conscience of those who tacitly 
encourage this detestable devastation, and thereby share in 


its guilt, have hitherto failed ; and, unless laws to stop it be 
not only passed but enforced, it will go on till it ceases for 
want of victims." 
This strong statement is referred to by Mr. Downham as* *' a 
theory which remains a theory for want of that element of sub- 
stantiation which has so completely proved the theory already 
dealt with " (the plume-hunter not being concerned with Hamp- 
stead and Tooting) and, adds the writer, '' the sentimentalist 
suppressing the proved theory, has seized upon this." What the 
sentimentalist may have done, it is unnecessary to consider ; but 
persons of common sense will assuredly not tilt at circumstances 
which are wholly or partly irremediable ; they will simply strive 
the harder to save that remnant of wild life which is being 
persecuted to death for a useless and preventable purpose. 

The Society lor the Protection of Birds. 

In 1889 the Society for the Protection of Birds was estabhshed 
in succession to one or two previously formed leagues,' which 
sought to band women together to resist plume-wearing on account 
of the cruelty and destruction involved. The Society, as its 
programme avowed from the first, " was called into existence 
by the ruthless destruction of birds, especially those with orna- 
mental plumage, which has been carried on for years all over the 
world in order to satisfy the demands of a barbarous fashion in 
millinery." From that time to the present it has continued to 
publish the facts as to the ''fancy-feather" business, and the 
effect of that business on the bird-hfe of the world. These facts, 
especially those relating to the Egret and Heron, have been 
stated and commented on in almost every newspaper of any 
standing. Similar societies have been formed in other European 

"The Times." 

In 1893 Mr. W. H. Hudson, the author of '' The Naturalist in 
La Plata " and '* Argentine Ornithology " — who had already 
described in a pamphlet written for the S.P.B.t, the nesting 

* " The Feather Trade,'* p. 23. 

t *' Osprey ; or, Egrets and Aigrettes." S.P.B. Leaflet No. 3. 


habits of the Heron tribe, and the methods of the hunter in shoot- 
ing out the heronries at the nesting season — ^wrote a further pro- 
test to the " Times " (Oct. 17th), from the point of view of the 
scientific ornithologist. The " Times," in its leading columns, 
spoke perhaps more strongly than any ** sentimentalist " has ever 
done : 

'' How long will women tolerate a fashion which involves 
such wholesale, wanton, and hideous cruelty as this ? . . . . 
If in every pulpit in the land this shocking story of the Egrets 
were told, surely for once humanity would prove stronger 
than fashion. . . . Let it be clearly understood, once for all, 
that the feathered woman is a cruel woman, that for the sake 
of a passing fashion, which pleases no rational being and 
should disgust all who can think and feel and understand, she 
brings dishonour upon her sex, and robs nature of its beauty 
without adding to her own." 

Four years later Mr. Hudson wrote in the same journal against 
the wearing, not only of " ospreys " but of all the brilliant birds 
whose skins and feathers were " on view in the dusty desert of 
the show-rooms in Houndsditch " ; and the " Times " again 
devoted a leading article to the subject. 

Lord Lilford, 

Lord Lilford, President of the British Ornithologists' Union 
from 1867 to 1896, took occasion to refer to the matter in Vol. VII. 
of his '' Birds oi the British Islands," in the chapter on the Great 
White Heron : 

'' Here it would seem appropriate to notice the wanton 
destruction of this and many kindred species that has been 
carried on all the world over for many years past, for no other 
purpose than the supply of the dorsal plumes for the sup- 
posed ornamentation of feminine and miUtary headgear. 
In * the trade ' these feathers are known as * osprey ' ; a*nd 
the thoughtless fashion for them has caused the almost entire 
extinction of more than one species. I am delighted to 
believe that in this country at least a very considerable check 


has been put upon this atrocious business by the action of 
the ladies' * Society for the Protection of Birds,' an associa- 
tion that cannot be too widely made known, or too highly 
commended. I would strongly urge all ladies who may 
honour me by reading these notes, to enrol themselves as 
members of this really beneficent society, whose only object 
is the preservation from wanton destruction of some of the 
most interesting and beautiful of organized creatures." 

In his chapter on the Little Egret, Lord LiKord wrote of it as 
the most confiding and fearless of man of any of the Ardeidse, 
but added : 

** It is probable, however, that by this time the poor birds, 
or those that may be left of them, have learned that feminine 
fashion has cast its eye upon them for personal decoration, 
and that the hint of gain by this cruel folly has rendered the 
animal Man, as a rule, a very dangerous neighbour." 

In 1899 Professor Newton returned to the charge, with figures 
taken '' from a source no more sensational or sentimental than 
the ' Public Ledger,' " to illustrate the quantities of *' osprey " 
feathers and Birds-of -Paradise sold at the London feather sales. 

" Shot Down at their Breeding»Places." 

'' It is," he added, '' a fact known to everyone who will 
take the trouble to enquire, that all these Egrets are shot 
down at their breeding-places while they are building their 
nests or rearing their young, and that if so be that the latter 
are hatched, they die of hunger on their parents' death, 
the breeding-places being absolutely devastated by the 
plume-hunters. The personal experience on this point of 
Mr. W. E. D. Scott, a competent and unimpassioned witness, 
has never been, and cannot be, refuted as regards the Atlantic 
and Gulf coasts of North America, where these settlements 
of the birds are all but extinguished ; but the same thing 
goes on all over the world wherever Egrets are found in 
numbers sufficient to make their destruction a profitable 

The Army Order. 

In 1898, through the action of Lord Wolseley, Commander-in- 
Chief, the authorities at the War Office resolved to discontinue 
the use of *' osprey " plumes in the British Army. In a letter 
to the Hon. Secretary of the S.P.B. from Dublin on August 2nd, 
1895, Lieut.-Colonel Childers wrote : 

** Lord Wolseley desires me to inform you that he has 
ascertained, on enquiry, that the plumes worn by officers of 
Horse Artillery, Hussars, King's Royal Rifles, and Rifle 
Brigade are obtained from the birds of various species of 
white Egrets and Herons during the nesting season, at which 
time these birds are in full plumage. An enormous number 
are also worn by ladies, who are responsible for nine-tenths 
of the amount annually slain." 

In 1899 the Order was given that the officers of the regiments 
who had hitherto worn *' ospreys " should henceforth wear 
plumes made from ostrich feathers. Previously to this, turbans 
had been substituted for plumed caps in the dress of the Viceroy 
of India's Bodyguard, for the same reason. 

Exportation from India. 

In 1902 the Government of India issued a Circular to all the 
local Governments and Administrations with reference to the 
protection of wild birds in India, in which the following questions 
were asked : 

" To what extent the skins of birds of handsome or useful 
plumage are exported, and whether this trade has increased 
or decreased of late years ; also whether there is reason to 
believe that the destruction of wild birds, especially of non- 
migratory insectivorous birds, during what should be close 
seasons for them, is extensive throughout the country ; and, 
if so, whether it is leading to the extermination of any species 
of wild birds." 

As a result of this enquiry the Government of India issued an 
Ordinance (Customs Circular No. 13, of 1902) prohibiting entirely 


the exportation from British India of skins and feathers of all 
birds, except feathers of ostriches and skins and feathers exported 
bona-fide as specimens of natural history. 

This Ordinance is further referred to in Chapter IV. (p. 61.) 
together with the words and actions of the plume-trade with 
respect to it. Some members of the trade approached the 
Government of India in 1904 with a petition for the rescinding 
of the regulation ; but the reply was given that the Government 
saw no reason for its withdrawal or modification. 

The Queen's Letter. 

In 1906, at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Protection 
of Birds (which had been incorporated under Royal Charter in 
1904), a letter was read from Queen Alexandra, stating that Her 
Majesty " never wears Egret plumes herself, and will certainly 
do all in her power to discourage the cruelty practised on these 
beautiful birds " ; and further, giving the President of the Society 
(the Duchess of Portland) full permission to use her name " in 
any way you think best to conduce to the protection of birds." 

The Importation of Plumage Bill. 

In 1908 Lord Avebury introduced into the House of Lords 
a Bill to Prohibit the Importation of Plumage. This Bill was 
the result of a meeting summoned by Lord Avebury, on the 
initiative of Mr. James Buckland, at which there w^ere present, 
in addition to Lord Avebury and Mr. Buckland, representatives 
of the Royal Society, the Linnean Society, the Zoological Society 
of London, the Selbome Society, the Royal Society for the Pro- 
tection of Birds, and the British Museum Natural History 
Department (Dr. Bowdler Sharpe). The Bill was framed, by 
request, by Mr. Montagu Sharpe, Chairman of Council R.S.P.B., 
and was, on its second reading, referred to a Select Committee 
of the House, who heard evidence from the promoters of the 
measure, from official representatives of India, Austraha, the 
United States, the Board of Trade, and the Customs, and also 
from the principal feather-importers, traders, and brokers. 


The Committee came to the conclusion that numerous species 
of birds are being recklessly slaughtered, and that while many- 
are being greatly reduced in numbers, others are in danger of being 
actually exterminated ; that the Bill would be notonly of general 
advantage, but would also render more effective the legislation of 
India, of Australia and of the United States ; that the provisions 
of the Bill are such as can be carried out in practice and without 
difficulty by the Public Departments concerned ; and that the 
Bill should be made the basis of representations to other Govern^ 
ments in order to induce them to pass similar laws. 

This Bill proposes to prohibit the possession for the purpose 
of sale or exchange of the plumage or skin of any wild bird 
imported into the United Kingdom. Exemptions are made in 
respect of ostrich feathers and eider-down, of specimens for 
museums, etc., of feathers for making fishing-flies, and of wild 
birds imported as food. It passed the House of Lords on July 
21st, 1908, and was introduced into the House of Commons on 
July 22nd, by Lord Robert Cecil, but did not reach the second 
reading before the end of the Session.* 

Bills with the same object have since been introduced into 
the House of Commons by Sir WiUiam Anson, Mr. Ramsay 
Macdonald, and Mr. Percy Alden, and have been blocked. 

This, in briefest form, is the history of the Plumage question, 
a history the public is now requested to overlook on the hypothesis 
that everything was really quite different from what it was repre- 
sented to be ; that everything is entirely different now from 
what it used to be ; and that birds are not decreasing, but increas- 
ing, on account of the proceedings of plume-hunters. 

* For text of Bill Kee Appendix, p. 72. 




The trade have been slow in taking serious steps to defend 
themselves, and the history of the defence is somewhat curious. 
Feathers having been proclaimed the fashion, it is evident that 
the feather-importers relied on the behef that the voice of fashion 
was stronger than the voice of either science or humanity. Some 
little time, however, after the formation of the Society for the 
Protection of Birds and of the Selbome Society, when women 
all over the country were being made acquainted with the facts 
concerning the " osprey " or Egret plume, the remarkable fraud 
of the "artificial osprey" came into existence. The Egret feather 
was no longer to be labelled " real " ; milliners' and drapers' 
assistants were instructed to assure lady customers that these 
delicate sprays were manufactured by the million out of quills 
and other material, by an army of factory- workers, who earned 
their living by this pleasant and artistic work. That the he was 
detected and proclaimed by every naturahst who took one of the 
so-called " artificial " plumes in his hand, made no difference 
whatever to the persistence and assurance with which it was 
affirmed and repeated. 

The fraud flourished until the time of the House of Lords 
Committee, when it became evident that the force of mere 
assertion and repetition, which had proved so successful with the 
uncritical public, would not stand investigation before a serious 
tribunal. The invention of " artificial ospreys " was suddenly 
discarded for that of " moulted feathers." The " artificial " 
osprey was admitted to be real, but it was no longer cruel to wear 
real plumes — they had been simply " picked up." 

Fiction versus Fact. 

The possibility of an imitation osprey was never denied by the 
Society ; that such a thing might be made by ingenious manu- 
facturers was pretty certain, though it could never stand the 


simple tests which at once reveal the true feather ; and in all 
probability it would have been placed on the market if the plume- 
trade had had the least desire to see it there. Obviously their 
interest would not be served by the superseding of their own 
commodity, a commodity, moreover, which was to hand through 
their agents and cost little in wages for preparation. 

Similarly, a few soiled Egret plumes may be picked up and 
come into the market, together with the admittedly superior 
ones taken from the slaughtered bird ; and it is credible that 
soine landowners may be making strong efforts to keep the 
destructive plume-hunter off their lands by such laws as can be 
hoped for on the vast lands and swamps of Venezuela ; but 
neither the making of hog's-bristle aigrettes, nor the effort of a 
State hero and a landowner there to protect the birds as best they 
know how, alter one whit the whole character and tenor of the 
trade in birds' feathers, nor the quality of the statements by 
which it has been, and is being, defended. 

The Aim of the R.S.P.B. 

The aim of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has 
been from the first to seek out facts. It investigated the facts 
concerning the Ostrich feather, and came to the conclusion that, 
although cruelty might be practised, it was not necessarily 
involved in the procuring of the plumes, and that the business 
stands on a wholly different plane from that which is dependent 
upon the killing of countless wild birds. 

When the " artificial osprey " was heralded in the papers 
and in the milliners' shops, the Society asked, again and again, to 
be furnished with an artificial plume and to be directed to the 
factory where such things were made. As neither request was 
ever complied with, and as it was proved that the feathers of ihb 
Heron and Egret were being widely sold as artificial, it was only 
possible to form only one conclusion. (See p. 39.) 

When, shortly after the House of Lords Committee made its 
report, a letter signed " Leon Laglaize " was being circulated, 
the Society took the same course. The letter did not commend 
itself to serious attention, since it was issued without the name 
of recipient or publisher, and contained a statement with regard 


to Herons' nests which was obviously untrue. Nevertheless 
the Society wrote to the British representatives in the country 
concerned and published their replies in full. The proceeding 
of the trade in quoting a short extract from this evidence and 
suppressing the rest needs no comment. 


Mr Downham says : 

*' The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has published, with one 
exception, nothing more than empty contradictions from people who have 
no experience or knowledge of the particular country or the conditions 
under which the feathers are collected. . . The one exception, confirming 
the evidence obtained by the trade, is contained in a letter from H.B.M. 
Minister in Venezuela, under date of January 14th, 1909, directed to the 
R.S.P.B., and although it does not fully agree with all that has been 
published by the trade on the subject, it is undoubtedly a report which 
has been issued only after very careful investigations." — " The Feather 
Trade," p. 30. 

H.B.M, Minister's Statement. 

One portion of this Report which " does not fully agree with 
all that has been pubhshed by the trade," is His Majesty's 
Minister's verdict upon the evidence furnished to him, and by 
him to the Society : 

" From the evidence before me I have no manner of doubt 
that the vast majority of the EgTct plumes exported to 
Europe are obtained by the slaughter of the birds during or 
about the breeding season, and that no effective regulations 
exist or indeed, owing to local conditions, can exist for the 
control of this slaughter, and that the letter of Mr. Leon 
Laglaize, of July 29th, 1908, gives a completely erroneous 
impression of the conditions under which the industry of 
collecting the plumes is conducted in Venezuela." 
Other letters received by the Society are given on page 52 
and onwards. 

Bird-Skins and Wings. 

The plumes of the Egrets and Herons form but a fraction, 
though a significant fraction, of the whole trade. With regard 
to the thousands of birds whose skins and wings are brought 


into the mart, no allegation of *' artificial "or ** moulted 
feathers " can be maintained — no person has dared to invent 
such a fable. They may be sold as " poultry " feathers or as 
*' manufactured " feathers to the unsuspicious purchasers. 
Efforts, too, may be made to prevent the details of sales from 
being made public. It may be argued that birds are catalogued 
for which there is known to be no market ; that the names by 
which they are catalogued are not the correct names ; that certain 
birds cannot be nearing extermination because there are stil] 
recesses of forest and swamp which the hunters have not yet 
penetrated. But unanswerable facts remain. 

K I 




With regard to the questions of the extermination of species, 
and the destruction of rare birds, it has been already shown 
that the Society for the Protection of Birds has never cited the 
phime-trade as the only cause of the decrease or extermination 
of birds. The fact that there are other and inevitable causes 
for the disappearance of birds renders it the more necessary to 
check preventable waste of bird-hfe. Neither has the Society 
ever maintained that a threatened extermination of species is 
the sole reason for dealing with the plume-hunter. If it be to a 
limited extent true that the hunters do not actually seek out 
the last survivors of a species, this affords no reason why any 
form of bird-life should be reduced even to scarcity, or should be 
brought so low, either as a member of the avi-fauna of the world, 
or of a particular country or district, as to be within measurable 
distance of extermination. There is no sufficient reason why a 
single colony of harmless and beautiful birds should be " wiped 
out " or " used up " for so paltry a purpose as millinery trimming. 

Rare Species. 

The arguments advanced by the trade amount to this : If a 
very small number of a given species are offered for sale, they 
come " accidentally." " If," says Mr. Downham (much virtue 
m " If.") 

" If rare birds come to the sale-rooms from time to time it is 
because those who killed them, and who would have killed them 
in any case for sport or food, have sent the skins on the off-chance 
of their purchase by collectors." 

Headers of " The Feather Trade " may picture the native of 
New Guinea, or the traveller in Mexico, cooking his blue Bird- 
of-Paradise or his Quetzal, and carefully saving the skin to forward 


to Houhdsditch in the hopes of a bid from the Natural History 
Museum ! But Houndsditch, it would seem, does not know 
them when they come. Mr. Buckland cites an instance of twelve 
of the rare blue, or Prince Rudolph Bird- of -Paradise being found 
by him amongst the skins in Cutler Street; *'10 Birds-of -Paradise, 
blue, dull," being the catalogue description afforded of female 
and unfledged male birds.* 

These are the birds, presumably, that come by units. Should 
they be represented by, say, a couple of hundred in a year of 
such a rare species as the Lyre-bird, we are asked to beheve that 
so small a number proves — not that the bird is being extirpated 
and larger numbers cannot be obtained — but that as the trade 
has secured so few it cannot be the plume-hunters who are 
endangering the species ! 

The " Waste Material " Theory. 

Should, however, some species be represented by thousands 
or tens of thousands, suggesting to scientific men the shooting 
out of whole colonies, the upholders of the feather- trade argue, 
with equal facility, that if so many birds are to be had there must 
be plenty left behind. If it is proved that birds are being reck- 
lessly killed in one district, it is held to be a satisfactory answer 
that there are unexplored wilds where the hunter has not pene- 
trated — yet. When American bird-lovers passionately denounce 
the traders who have filched from them their Herons and Ibises 
and Spoonbills, Mr. Downham seeks to soothe them with the 
assurance that he has read in a recent book of the existence of 
Herons and Spoonbills in Spain. According to this ingenious 
spokesman of the trade, it is never, under any circumstances, the 
trade that is at fault, never the trade which kills. At most it is 
merely the dog which trots behind and picks up the birds, getting 
the feathers by way of reward. When man opens up a new land, 
we are assured, he naturally shoots " all that runs or flies," and 
the plume-hunter follows in his wake in order to utilize " waste 
material " in making ornaments " which some women insist 

* Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, December, 1909. 


upon wearing." In the forest and the swamp, and on the remote 
island, where there is no one to see and to note, in Guiana and 
Papua and Brazil and the Congo, and the islands of the Pacific, 
the plume-hunter's ravages are but an economic salvage of waste 
material ! 

Could the veriest child credit such absurdities? This, we arc 
to suppose, is why the plume-hunter is held at bay by force of 
arms and by stringent laws in civilized lands ; this is why such 
reports as the following constantly come from countries where 
naturalists ^vrite of the facts within their own experience : 

Extermination in Florida. 

" The brutal savagery, which is characteristic of this 
phase of bird destruction has been well illustrated in the 
extermination of Egrets of the United States. Twenty-five 
years ago these beautiful birds were abundant in some 
Southern states. They are shy birds during most of the year, 
feeding chiefly in deep swamps and along lonely water 
courses. In the breeding season they gather into heronries. 
Then much of their shyness disappears under the stress of 
providing for their young. . . Nesting- time was the plume- 
hunter's opportunity. So the old birds were shot, the 
plumes stripped from their backs, and the young left to 
starve in the nest or become the prey of hawks, crows or 
vultures. When I was in Florida in 1878 one heronry was 
estimated to contain three milhon birds. Now they are 
practically extirpated. They have been pursued along the 
coasts of Mexico and into Central and South America. The 
search is extending into all countries where they may be 
found. Half-savage Indians and negroes are enhsted in 
the slaughter, supplied with guns and ammunition, and sent 
wherever they can find the birds. A similar slaughter took 
place among the sea-birds along the Atlantic coast. The 
birds were shot down on their breeding grounds and their 
wings cut off. In Massachusetts this trade bore most heavily 
upon the Gulls and Terns." — ''Useful Birds and their 
Protection," by E. H. Forbush, Ornithologist to the 
Massachusetts Board of Agriculture : 1907. 



" Your President was greatly pleased to find a young 
Tern just able to fly, near the shore of Great Island, N. Y. . . 
Thousands of them used to breed in that locality up to the 
year 1883-4, when they w^ere mercilessly slaughtered for 
milHnery." — National Audubon Association Report, 1906. 

" The colony of Lesser Terns on Cobb's Island, Virginia, 
has been thoroughly annihilated for millinery purposes. 
Our guides told us of the immense numbers of these birds 
that were slaughtered within the past few years ; the figures 
were almost incredible. He and nearly all the gunners and 
fishermen on the coast took a hand in the game and they 
kept at it until the last one was gone, though at first the 
supply seemed inexhaustible." — Reports on Bird Colonies 
in Virginia, by A. C. Bent, 1907. 

Tern and Albatross. 

As many as 18,000 of one species of Tern (catalogued as 
** Dominoes ") were listed for a single sale in 1C08, and large 
numbers continue to come in. Mr Bryan, United States Special 
Inspector of Animals and Birds, reported to his Government in 
1904, having been ** appalled by the destruction of birds on the 
North Pacific Islands," hundreds of thousands having been 
killed by plume-hunters. On Marcus Island they " had wiped 
out of existence one of the largest Albatross colonies in these 
waters," and Midway Island was '' covered with great heaps of 
Albatross carcases, which a crew of poachers had left to rot on 
the ground after the quill feathers had been pulled out of each 
bird." The United States steamer Thetis, sent to stop illegal 
plume-hunting on one of the Hawaian islets, found that the 
hunters had already destroyed some 300,000 birds on this 
breeding station. 

The Lyre- Bird. 

The Lyre- Bird of New South Wales is fast becoming extinct. 
It is strictly protected by law ; but 80 tails were catalogued at 


the London plume sale of August, 1907 ; 100 at the Decenaber 
sale ; while in 1905 twelve dozen were sold at Sydney for exporta- 
tion to London. — Sydney Morning Herald, September 15, 1905. 

The Emu. 

" The wild Emus are rapidly being exterminated, and I 
believe that it is entirely from these that the emu feather 
boas are manufactured." — Dr. Graham Renshaw (Letter 
to the S.P.B., 1903). 

The Qrebe. 

" Over most of the country the Grebes are known only as 
migrants, when they are so wary and expert in diving that 
they are well prepared to take care of themselves. But on 

the breeding grounds all is different The Grebes 

followed close after me, or, diving, came up again only a few 
feet away, cackling and scolding, as they tried to drive or 
coax me away from their nests, boldly offering their lives for 

the safety of their homes Harmless, beautiful,, 

defenceless, they fill the j)lace among birds which the fur 
seals do among mammals, and their doom seems as sure 
and as sad. While among the nests watching the brave, 
beautiful little people building and guarding their homes 
and caring for their young, I could hear the guns of the skin- 
hunters along the shores of the lake all day, and I was told 
that from early spring until the lakes freeze in fall, the trade 
goes on, though most successfully during the breeding 
season." — Vernon Bailey, Biological Survey, U S.A. 

Mr. Finley writes (1905) of finding sixty Grebes' nests in a 
single small island. We found but one nest, and saw only 
an occasional wary bird. Skinned bodies floating here and 
there told the story of their disappearance. A Grebe-hunter 
summed up the situation by saying that when the price fell 
to fifteen cents, they were not worth hunting, but now that 

they had gone up to fifty cents, there was money in it 

No stockbroker keeps his eye more keenly on the tape than 


he on the quotations of the feather-markets, which the 
dealers see that he duly receives." — F. M. Chapman, in 
"Bird Lore," August, 1906. 

The Impeyan Pheasant. 

" In some districts seems to have been extremely numerous 
not so many years ago, but this is not so now, for the cocks have 
been killed by thousands to meet the plume-market." (Newton, 
" Diobionary of Birds.") Though exportation from India is 
illegal, these skins continue to come into the auction-room. 

Egrets and Spoonbills. 

*' It has long been our desire to include the White Heron 
in the series of habitat groups (in the American Museum of 
Natural History), but plume-hunters have brought this bird 
so near the verge of extermination that our efforts to find a 
rookery in which suitable studies might be made have been 
fruitless. However, in February, 1907, information was 
received of the existence of a colony. . . . When the ground 
on which the rookery is situated was acquired by the club 
now owning it, the plume-hunters had nearly exterminated 
the aigrette- bearing Herons which formerly inhabited it in 
large numbers. A few had escaped. ... A former plumer, 
now chief warden in charge of the preserve, stated that both 
the Snowy Egret and the Roseate Spoonbill were once found 
in the region, but their complete annihilation left no stock 
which, under protection, might have proved the source of 
progeny." — F. M. Chapman (Curator, American Museum of 
Natural History, New York). 

London Feather=sales. 

In evidence prepared for the House of Lords Committee by the 
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the following figures 
were quoted from catalogues of the London Feather-sales, 
as affording illustration of the numbers of skins and feathers 


dealt with. There are six sales during the year, but the numbers 
are those put up for sale on the dates given : 

Crowned Pigeons 


. June 10th, 1908 

>> >y 


. April 14th, 1908 

>» >> 


. February 11th, 1908 

>» >> 


. December 17th, 1907 

» »> 


. October 14th, 1907 

J> 9} 


. February 12th, 1907 

Sooty Tern . . 


. June 10th, 1908 

if . • 


April 14th, 1908 

j> • • • 


. February 11th, 1908 

Impeyan Pheasants . 


. April, 14th, 1908 

>> )> 


. December 17th, 1907 

99 if 


. Juno nth, 1907 

>> J> 


April 16th, 1907 

» >> • 


. February 12th, 1907 

J> >> 


. December 11th, 1903 



. June nth, 1907 

>> • • 


. April nth, 1908 



. April nth, 1906 

Albatross Quills 


February 12th, 1907 

Rhea Feathers 

26 cases 

June nth, 1907 

To these may be added : 17,940 Sooty Terns, February, 1908 ; 
4,373 Crowned Pigeons, October, 1908 ; 2,149 Crowned Pigeons, 
August, 1909. 


Birds of 



February 12th . . 



April 6th 



June nth 



August 2nd 



October 15th . . 



December 17th 



During 1906 :— 









. 11,841 

August . . 









The quantity of feathers to a " package " varies greatly, but the 
1,411 packages catalogued in the last six months of 1907 were 
admitted to represent 115,000 birds. 



Among the bundles of quills are those of Eagle and Hawk and 
Crane, Pelican and Osprey, and Bustard ; the handsome Soldier 
or Jabiru Storks come in as ** Albatross " ; the " Vulture " quills 
are neither vulture nor quills, being the body feathers of the 
Rhea, the wild Ostrich of South America. 

Evidence from Sale-room and Catalogue. 

Shortly after the Importation of Plumage Prohibition Bill had 
passed through the House of Lords in 1908, the trade stopped 
detailed advertisements of their sales, and ceased to pubHsh any 
reports on them in the " Public Ledger." They now contend that 
figures from catalogues are misleading, as the same consignment 
of birds may be offered many times. Humming-birds, which 
continue to appear in cratefuUs, have been unsaleable, according 
to Mr. Downham, for twenty years ; yet at the sale on February 
7th, 1911, one firm catalogued no fewer than 20,820 of these birds. 
In 1905 a different firm put up 12,500. If this is the supply in 
the market of birds which are not wanted and not used, and have 
not been wanted for twenty years, it is difficult to imagine the 
reckless slaughter which must be perpetrated and the numbers 
that must be killed of birds which are in active demand. 

"Not Wanted." 

The fact that a particular bird is not wanted for the time being 
is no proof of its safety. As in the case of the Grebe, it may 
suddenly be again declared " fashionable." It is stated also by 
Mr. Downham, that some birds are brought into the market merely 
as an experiment. They are killed, not because there is a demand 
for them, but on the chance that the demand may be created. 
This again shows the danger in which every species of finely- 
plumaged birds stands until legislation interferes. 

Visitors (there are very few, and they are not welcomed) to the 
Cutler Street warehouse can see for themselves the piles of brilhant 
bodies of Trogons from Guatemala, Cocks-of-the-rock from 
Guiana, Toucans, with their wonderful beaks sliced through to 
form a " handle " for the adjacent breast-plumes ; Orioles, bright- 
hued Finches, Tanagers, Crowned Pigeons from New Guinea, 


Emu skins, wings of Sea-Swallows, hundreds and thousands of 
quills ; and tumbled in among the " various bird-skins," which 
have no names, will be found little Flycatchers and Cuckoos and 
sober-plumaged bodies that seem to offer no sj)ecial target for the 
hunter. Very possibly in this mixed bag many a strange and 
rare species is " knocked down " without recognition : for plume 
dealers are not ornithologists. 

Qame=Birds and Poultry. 

The trade dwells a good deal on the use made of game birds 
and of poultry. This suggests the need of precaution in any 
legislation. The Goura Pigeon of a single land, the Impeyan 
Pheasant of the Himalayas, the Argus Pheasant, the Chinese 
Pheasant, are included in the milhner's idea of " game." In 
1899 the Society for the Protection of Birds in China (Shanghai) 
memorialized the Government on the subject of " the great and 
rapidly increasing destruction at present overtaking the Pheasant 
in China " : 

'* The trade to which we refer is that which, originating 
in the exigencies of fashion, calls for the export of the entire 
skin of the Pheasant, and its ravages, even at its present 
initial rate, are sufficient to threaten the species with extinc- 
tion. The necessities of such a trade recognize no ' close 
season ' ; feathers and skins taken in breeding time are well 
suited to the requirements of the market." * 

Shore Birds. 

" There are included in the Limicola3 several species 
that are game birds in name only, their bodies being 
so small that they possess no value whatever for food pur- 
poses. Thousands and thousands of these beautiful 
and graceful creatures have been slaughtered solely for their 
plumage, their diminutive bodies not being considered of 
enough value to send to market." — Report of National 
Audubon Association, 1906. 

* "Celestial Empire" (Shanghai), Sapt. 11, 1899. 


The Willow Grouse. 

In *' A Russian Province of the North," by Alexander Platono- 
vich Engelhardt, Governor of the Province of Archangel, trans- 
lated by H. Cooke, H.M. Consul at Archangel, the author writes 
of Willow Grouse (** Koropatki ") : '' We brought back on the 
N ordenskiold a cargo of 600 poods, or nearly ten tons, of these 
wings. They are exported from Archangel to serve as trimmings 
for ladies' hats. The white plumage has this special advantage, 
among others — that it can be dyed any colour, and in this way be 
converted into the feathers of parrots, or any other bird, for 
selling purposes." " The glossy skins of Black-throated Divers' 
necks are also, to my knowledge," says Mr. Harvie-Brown, the 
w^ ell-known ornithologist, *' sold in vast quantities at Archangel 
for trimmings. Is it not shameful that such birds, even if ctill 
abundant as * Koropatki,' should be killed simply for their 
plumage ? " 



It is a favourite contention of the trade, that : 

" The Bill, if passed, will throw out of employment thousands of British 
workpeople, without protecting the life of ai single bird." — "The Feather 
Trade," p. 119. 

To which statement Mr. Downham adds: "We have thousands of workmen 
and workwomen to consider." 

British Labour. 

The question of the thousands of workpeople may be con- 
sidered first. Fashion has never shown the sHghtest inclination 
to consider the case of workpeople injured in a change of materials 
or of trimmings. It has not even considered the case of the 
manufacturers. The fancy feather-trade is, however, happily 
one in which the industrial question is very little involved, as 
the material gives less labour to the working-class than probably 
any other kind of trimming that could be, and would be, employed 
in its place. The profit does not go to pay the wages of a large 
number of hands ; it goes to the few firms who conduct the 
business. This was brought out very clearly in the examination 
of trade witnesses before the House of Lords Committee. It 
was then shown that of the imported feathers 80 per cent, go out 
of England to be made up in foreign factories ; with 80 per cent, 
of the goods English labour has therefore nothing to do. The 
remaining 20 per cent, give employment during a portion of the 
year only, to young women who are engaged at other times in 
manipulating ostrich feathers and making artificial flowers. 
One trade witness said : 

" The trade does not go on always ; it is mostly in the fall of the year 
when these birds are employed. In the summer season our fu-m makes 
artificial flowers, and other people employ themselves with ostrich feathers." 

Should the plumage of wild birds be no longer obtainable, 
ostrich feathers and poultry feathers will remain ; and there can 


be no doubt that the use of artificial flowers and berries, and of 
ribbons and fancy ornaments, would increase and would give 
more employment in the labour market than is now given by 
the importation of wild-bird plumage. *' You say," said Lord 
Avebury, in questioning Messrs. Sciama's representative, at the 

(Q. 270) " You say that the Bill would diminish the 
demand for labour in this country, but as it would 
replace a certain quantity of feathers, which are grown 
abroad, by a certain quantity of articles which are made 
in this country, clearly it must tend to increase the 
demand for labour in this country ?" 

What had Mr. Downham to say about his thousands of 
workmen and workwomen ? He said : 

" On the question of labour, there may not be so much difference one 
way or the other ; but I cannot admit that it would increase under the 

The Plume-hunter. 

The plume-traders have always alleged deep interest in the 
weKare of the workers. The pubHc was constantly told that the 
" artificial " plume (which had no existence) gave labour to 
thousands of hands. Other trade-philanthropists have made 
capital out of the needs of the hypothetical Indian who was 
saved from starvation by picking up Egret plumes. How did 
the poor Indian live through the centuries before Egrets were 
hunted ? 

(Q 568) " This (the collection of plumes) finds great employment, you 
must remember, for a number of these Indians, who would be starved 
otherwise." — Mr. M. Hale, before the H.L. Committee. 

Unimpassioned writers have affirmed that the professional 
plumer is not usually a deserving member of society in any 
country ; but it is hard on his friends that Mr. Downham now 
gives the case away in seeking to establish that for the Venezuelan 
garccro. Mr. Laglaize, we are told, 

" Plas been largely instrumental in pointing out to the American estate 
owners the importance of preserving their garceros against the attacks 
of the Indians, who would kill any living thing, valuable or not."— "The 
Feather Trade," p. 36.) 


Osprey and Horsehair. 

To make up the tale of workpeople, the trade now propose 
to include in the list of those whose employment will be gone, 
the men who handle the goods in the docks, and the assistants 
in the feather departments of drapers' shops. Perhaps there 
should also be included the purve3^ors of the horsehair that comes 
over as top-dressing for smuggled bird-skins (See page G3.) On 
the other hand might be urged the increased work afforded, not 
only to the young ladies in the artificial- flower side of retail 
businesses, but the workers in all those factories (in the air) 
which the trade not long ago swore were engaged in the manu- 
facture of artificial ospre3^s. If, as a witness for the trade 
stated to the Committee on July 8th, 1908, " osprey s " can be 
made so perfectly from horsehair that no one but an expert can 
tell the difference, by all means let cases of horsehair be 
imported, without the underlying strata of bird-skins and Egret 
plumes ! 





The statement that the passing of the Bill will not protect the 
life of a single bird is untenable. It is founded on the allegation 
that the trade will go on just the same, with its head- quarters in 
Hamburg or some other Continental port instead of in England ; 
and that EngUsh women will flock over to the Continent to buy 
the plumes prohibited by British law. The latter argument 
requires Httle attention. When ladies cease to see the feathers 
in miUiners' shops and cease to be importuned to buy them, they 
will cease to wish for them, and will buy new hats as frequently 
and as happily, with trimmings of dainty ribbon and flower ; 
and many milhners will experience a pleasant rehef in no longer 
being compelled to apologise or he in order to sell their goods. 
No one credits the story of Enghshwomen of all classes swarming 
over to France and Germany for the sake of persisting in a dis- 
credited mode. It may even be that some of the small percentage 
of women who now buy, and may still buy, their miUinery abroad, 
will perceive the odium attaching to a species of ornament con- 
demned by their country's laws. So far the majority of women 
have not reahsed the meaning of the trade or the gravity of the 
objections to it. An Act of Parhament will throw a strong hght 
on the matter. Obviously, therefore, the birds killed to supply 
the bulk of the British market will be saved. 

The British Empire. 

It is an undeniable fact that an anti-Importation Law in 
Great Britain would strengthen and uphold protection and 
export laws macje m pther parts of the Empire. : 


" I am quite sure," said Colonel Ryan, the deputed repre- 
sentative of the Commonwealth of Australia to the House of 
Lords enquiry, " that such legislation would be an inestimable 
boon to Austraha. . . We should hail with the greatest dehght 
the passing of such an Act." 

"An import duty," said Lord Stanmore, who has acted as 
Governor of New Brunswick, Trinidad, Mauritius, Fiji, New 
Zealand and Ceylon, "would unquestionably "strengthen legisla- 
tion on the part of the Colonies. An import duty is a natural 
complement to the export duty in the Colony." 

" My personal opinion, as a Customs officer," said Mr. C. G. 
Todhunter, late Collector of Customs at Madras, "is that the 
Bill would be most useful and helpful." 

A memorial was, in November, 1910, presented to the Colonial 
Secretary from the self-governing Colonies of South Africa, New 
Zealand, and Austraha, calhng attention to the manner in which 
Colonial ordinances for the protection of plume-birds are frustrated 
by iUicit export. The Importation Bill w^ould give the Customs 
power to seize and deal w ith smuggled goods. 

It is, then, evident that the hfe of birds of the British Colonies 
and Dependencies will be protected by the proposed Act. 

The effect, however, will not stop short with the confines of the 
British Empire. 

the United States. 

"America cannot protect her own birds if the countries 
of the Old World offer a market for the plumage of American 
birds, as they are now doing. . . The milliners demand a 
dead bird and require that it shall be killed at a season of the. 
year when it is in its best plumage, that is, during the period 
of reproduction, the result being decrease and eventual 
extermination." — Paper read by Mr. W. Dutcher at the 
Fifth International Ornithological Congrjess at Berhn^ June, 
Mr. Downham, in seeking to explain away the smuggling 

business, says that " the trade cannot control consignments to 

a free market." - ' " ----^ -- - 


Therefore Bird Protectors say : 

" Close the great free market of London, and the Bird Protec- 
tion laws of America and of every other country will b0 
strengthened." ' 

A Foreign Trade. 

If the birds of the British Empire, and the birds that would, 
otherwise be killed to supply the EngHsh shops, are saved, the^ 
trade, say its members, will flourish all the same on the Continent, 
but England will lose her share in the profits on it. 

To this the answer might be given that England would be well 
rid of her profits in such a business, and that when a trade is 
shown to have evil consequences and to be against the interests 
of the world at large, it is not the character of English people 
to pause to consider that if England washed her hands there are 
other people who will be not so particular. There is, however, 
no necessity to appeal to this sentiment. 

The trade at present is not an English one. It is essentially 
a foreign trade. The feathers are brought into London, but it 
has been shown that 80 per cent, of them leave the country as 
they came. There is no import duty, and on that proportion 
no industrial workers have been employed. The buyer and the 
seller in Mincing Lane are the only person? concerned with it. 
The firms of feather-merchants who are so anxious about the 
British interests are Messrs. Sciama & Co., Eugene Hanneguy, 
S. H. Weiler, G. K. Dunstall and Emil Mosbacher. The com- 
mittee of the Eastern Millinery Association which fought the New 
York Bird Protection Bill were Messrs. Zucker, Herman, Goldzier, 
Sommerich, Blumenthal and Judkins ; and the officers of the 
New York Feather Importers' Association at that time (1909) 
were Messrs Ph. Adelson, M. Lehman, G. Silva (of Sciama & Co.) 
and Lucian Selz. Great Britain and the United States owe 
much to the numerous foreign merchants doing business of many 
kinds within their cities ; but when these gentlemen betray 
great anxiety as to the result to England if their trade departs 
from this country, it is not unreasonable to suspect that the 
anxiety is more concerned with the trade than with the country. 



If the Importation Act would not save a single bird, and if the 
business would merely be transferred to a German port, feather- 
traders would not trouble themselves greatly about it. That 
they are fighting with might and main, and with every argument 
on which they can lay hands, is proof that they are desperately 
afraid of the effect on the whole Continent and on America of 
such a law passing through the British ParHament. They know 
that foreign legislatures would follow British example and that 
the birds would be saved. 

At the International Ornithological Conference, held in Berhn 
in May-June, 1910, an International Committee of Ornitho- 
logists was formed, in order to consider the means for obtaining 
international laws for the protection of birds killed for the plume- 
market. The countries represented on the Committee are : 
Great Britain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, 
Holland, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland* 
and the United States of America. 

A Colonial Office Committee was appointed by the Colonial 
Secretary (Lord Crewe) in 1910, to investigate the facts with 
reference to the birds of the British Empire. The Committee 
consists of Dr. Sidney Harmer, F.R.S., Mr. W. R. Ogilvie- 
Grant, and Mr. C. E. Fagan , for the Natural History Museum ; 
Mr. H. J. Read, Mr. G. W. Johnson, and Mr. R. E. Sbubb, for 
the Colonial Office ; the Hon. E. S. Montagu, Parhamentary 
Under-Secretary for India, and Mr. Percy lUingworth, for the 
Board of Trade. 

A petition from the self-governing Colonies of South Africa, 
Australia, and New Zealand, calling attention to the manner 
in which Colonial ordinances for the protection of plume-birds 
are frustrated by illicit export, was presented to the Colonial 
Secretary (Mr. Harcourt) in November by Mr. Buckland, 



The writer of " The Feather Trade " states that the trade is 
wilHng to enter into a species of partnership with Bird Protectors 
who will " leave their slang dictionaries and their platform 
rhetoric behind them," and enter into an agreement with the 
leading trade-firms. 

When a man offers himself to another as partner, it is usual 
for that other — if he possess any common-sense — to enquire into 
the antecedents and the probity of the would-be partner. Bird 
Protectors in like manner naturally look into the antecedents of 
the feather-trade. Previous pages have brought out a few of the 
facts connected with that subject. The trade deny the killing 
of birds in the close season ; it is known that this has been the 
rule. They deny the extermination of the Egrets of Florida; 
reference to pp. 12, 22, 54, is all that is needed on this point. 
They deny responsibility for smuggHng ; it is proved that 
smuggHng has been carried on. For years they professed and 
asseverated that " ospreys " were " artificial " ; this was proved 
to be an unquahfied he. They have, again and again, mis- 
stated and perverted facts, suppressed evidence, evaded questions, 
disseminated false statements. 

A single paragraph may be cited from their apology. It occurs 
on page 117 : 

" The statement that the plumage Ample evidence that the plumes 

is cut from the birdB ' before they are taken in the nesting-time, and 
are half -dead,' and that the yoimg the young birds left to starve, is 
ones are left to starve, is a gross given on pages 12, 22, 46, 50, 61. 
fabrication, and absurd. 

His Majesty's Minister at Caracas His Majesty's Minister said no- 

has borne witness to the fact that thing to this effect. What he did 
a very considerable proportion of say was : ** I have no manner of 
the White Herons are preserved in doubt that the vast majority of 
heronries (garceros) by rich land- the Egret plumes exported to 
owners, and the moulted feathers Europe are obtained by the slaughter 
are picked up at the end of the of the birds during or about the 
breeding season. breeding season." * 

* *' Moulted Plumes," R.S.P.B. Leaflet, No. 60 ; "How Osprey Feathers 
are Procured," R.S.P.B. Leaflet, No. 61. 


The trade estimates that the In 1910 a decree forbidding the 

supply of moulted feathers makes shooting of Egrets was made in one 

up by far the greater part of the small sub- State of Venezuela, in 

total consignments from Venezuela, consequence of the destruction by 

where the shooting of an Egret is plume-hunters. Its efficacy is as 

now an indictable offence." yet unknown. 

Here, then, are three direct perversions of plain fact. No 
more need be said to indicate the methods adopted by the feather- 
trade's exponent. 

"Is it too much to ask," enquires Mr. Downham, that 
Bird Protectors shall ally themselves with the trade which he 
represents, accept its " assistance," and in return give the 
assurances it proposes to " demand " that the trade shall *' no 
longer be harassed " ? 

It is certainly a great deal too much to concede. 


PART 11. 


Although the " artificial osprey " is at present held in abeyance, 
it has for so many years occupied a prominent place in the tactics 
of the plume-market that a brief history of this milHon-tongued 
lie can hardly be omitted from any re-statement of the plumage 
question. Thousands of women have been deceived into buying 
Egret feathers by the false assertion that they were not Egret 
feathers, and even now the fable hngers in provincial shops. 
From the first day when milhners were instructed to sell their 
ospreys as " artificial " if they could not sell them as " real," to 
the day when a trade witness before th^ House of Lords Com- 
mittee clung to the expiring fraud, but could not produce one 
specimen of the article for examination, no " artificial osprey " 
was ever placed in an ornithologist's hand. It may pretty 
safely be said that no "' artificial osprey " was ever made. 

Ladies were told that these things were manufactured from 
quills, ivorine, silk, wood, the feathers of poultry, etc. ; that they 
could not be sold so cheaply if they were " real " feathers ; that 
they could not be sold so cheaply if they were manufac- 
tured. It was all one He. As Dr. Bowdler Sharpe wrote on one 
occasion to the Society for the Protection of Birds, when an 
" osprey," bought as "artificial," had been forwarded to him— 
" I need hardly tell you that it is the same old osprey — the 
nuptial plume of the Heron or Egret." 

Sir William Flower, the Director of the Natural History 
.Museum, wrote to the '' Times " in 1896* to protest against this 
" monstrous fiction," saying that : 

" One of the most beautiful of birds is being swept off the 
face of the earth, under circumstances of pecuhar cruelty, bol- 
stered up by a glaring falsehood." 

«« Artificial Humes " R.S.P.B. Leaflet, No. 27. 


Sir Edwin Ray Lankester, interviewed by the " Daily News '* in 
1903, said : 

'* An osprey has never been imitated, and, whatever the shop- 
keeper may say, it is always the parent bird, slain at the breeding 
season, which supplies women's hats and bonnets." 

The Society purchased from a score of West-end shops in 1903 
specimens of " ospreys," which were sold and invoiced as " arti- 
ficial " ; proved them to be Egret plumes, and pubhshed the 
story of the he far and wide.* 

Mr. W. P. Pycraft, of the Natural History Museum, wrote in 
'' Knowledge," June, 1904 : 

" The statements that imitation or artificial ' ospreys ' are 
made of spHt quills, whalebone, or other material, are all abso- 
lutely false." 

No Answer. 

Did the trade, on being thus indicted, refute the charge by 
sending specimens of the plumes they pretended to manufacture, 
to Sir Wilham Flower, to Professor Lankester, to Mr. Pycraft, 
to the Society ? No. They merely continued to repeat the 
" glaring falsehood " to ignorant ears. One instance may be 
given. When Professor Lankester had spoken, the representative 
of an evening newspaper interviewed some members of the trade. f 
He was told that ospreys were made of cotton, of vultures, of 
" a secret substance," and that over a thousand hands were 
employed on the industry in London. The Society asked in the 
columns of the same paper for the address of one factory where 
such an industry was carried on. There was no answer. The 
newspaper privately suppHed the name of the firm responsible 
for the statement, and the Society wrote to the firm. " Your 
letter," wrote the firm, in reply, " shall receive attention." 
Needless to say, that was the only reply ever received. No other 
reply could presumably be given when it was feared that investi- 
gation would follow. 

* *' The Biography of a Lie," R.S.P.B. Leaflet, No. 49. 
I "St. James's Gazette," May, 1904. 




The story that in certain places plume-hunters pick up vast 
supplies of beautiful feathers which Herons and Egrets drop in 
the moulting season, has been heard once and again during the 
last twelve or fifteen years, varied by a tale of still more distant 
lands where Egrets were said to be domesticated on farms. 

On these foundations has risen the specious argument that 
since there are Ostrich farms, why not Egret farms, where the 
birds could be bred and the feathers cut off or systematically 
collected ? Those who argue thus overlook the fact that Herons 
and Egrets are not flightless birds which can be herded in paddocks 
to be chpped, but shy, winged species, which build in trees by 
lake and swamp, and for the rest of the year scatter themselves 
over wide expanses of country. The light and dehcate nuptial 
plumes are worn throughout the nesting and brooding period, 
and at the end of this time are shed on the marshland in a torn 
and draggled condition. Even when the birds are shot with 
their plumes in full beauty, the stain of swamp water will lessen 
the value of the thread-hke filaments. The trade admit that these 
so-called moulted plumes are inferior,* but are anxious that the 
public should beheve that they form the greater part of those 
brought into the market. 

When the " moulted plumes " theory was started they were 
said to be picked up on the walls of China ; but the Heron has 
now been practically exterminated in many of the more accessible 
parts of China. One illustration of the manner in which this 

* " Ospreys : We have always been of opinion that a large propor- 
tion of the feathers are dead feathers. They are quite different from 
the other feathers. They are brittle and obviously perished." — Mr. G. K. 
Dunstall (feather-merchant) before the H.L. Committee. 

" There may be a few that the hunters call chasse, that is to say, they are 
hunted, shot by the hunters, and these plumes, if they are on the bird, 
are naturally much better than those that are picked off the ground when 
they are moulted." — Mr. Downham, ibid. 


came about was told in the " Cornhill Magazine" (October, 1899) 
by Mrs. Archibald Little, who recounts how a heronry was 
destroyed at Chungking, "in the way of business," for £50 
worth of plumes.* 

There have also been accounts, given in anonymous letters to 
newspapers, of square miles of country in India, " white with shed 
feathers," '' lying in sheets like snow " ; another writer avowed 
his f amiharity with the birds and the moulted plumes in Nigeria ; 
but, unfortunately for his reputation as a naturalist, he also 
described the plumes as growing on the " breast " of the bird. 

The Fabled Farm in Tunis. 

Another circumstantial story appeared in French and German 
papers some years ago of an institution near Tunis, where the 
birds were reported to be kept in a large aviary and " deplumed " 
twice a year. Dr. Sclater, who was then Secretary of the London 
Zoological Society, used every effort to discover the source of 
this story, as no one knew better than he the extreme difficulty 
of inducing the Egret to breed in any sort of captivity. None 
could be ascertained ; but ultimately the mystery was tracked 
down by Mr. Scherren to a brief and luckless experiment made 
by a German banker, who, at the instigation of a French taxider- 
mist, tried to breed Herons in North Africa.']' Whether any 
plumes found their way to the market is not stated, but the 
banker lost his money, and the taxidermist disappeared. 

South America is, however, the only country now cited by 
the plume-trade in connection with the picked-up moulted 
plume business. 

Venezuela : Consular Report. 

In the Consular report on the trade of Venezuela for 1898, 
special attention was called to " the destruction of the birds for 
the supply of ' aigrettes ' for ladies' hats." " This," said the 
Consul, " is really appalling," showing that, on an average 
computation, a milHon and a half birds had been killed in the 
preceding year. This statement was widely pubhshed and 

* " Our Pet Herons." R.S.P.B. Leaflet, No. 35. 

•f " Canary and Cage Bird Life," Jan. 29, 1909 ; " Wild und Hund," 
Dec. 4, 1908. 


commented on at the timfe, and no question was raised as to tlie 
accuracy of the Blue Book figures. It is now vehemently contro- 
verted by the spokesman of the feather-trade, who roundly 
declares that these figures from the official Report are the " plat- 
form mathematics " of " one of the purveyors of sensational 
statements," though in the next paragraph he quotes their 
source. In a letter dated July 29, 1910, the London Chamber 
of Commerce asked the Consul at Ciudad BoUvar for the " correct 
analysed returns" for 1898, having at the same time "reason 
to beheve that no analysis of the feather exports was undertaken 
before 1905," and knowing that the feathers exported from 
Venezuela are " mainly Egret feathers." It is to be noted that 
this enquiry of the trade was not made until eleven years after 
the return was pubhshed. It is, therefore, not surprising that no 
official analysis could be suppHed, and that the Acting Consul 
could merely furnish figures obtained from the exporters them- 
selves. According to these the export was about the same then 
that it is now declared to be. 

It is also to be noted that in this appHcation to the Consulate 
the trade make no comment on the statement that the birds were 

" Picked up *' and " Picked out." 

*' The Times " in 1900 pubhshed a description of plume-hunting, 
as carried on in the United States, and following on this came a 
letter signed "K. Thomson," alleging the collection of moulted 
feathers in Nicaragua and Venezuela. The writer averred that 
the birds " being gifted with long necks," were so shy and difficult 
of approach that it could never pay to attempt to kill them on 
their roosting- trees,* and consequently the hunters only went 
round and picked up the cast plumes ; also that these same birds 
were so easily domesticated that one or two were " kept at every 
house, and were very useful for kilhng vermin." Unhappily, 
this witness like other witnesses called by the feather-trade, was 
weak in his natural history ; he said that only the male Egret 
bore the plumes, and that as the bird lifted them " after the style 

* The roosting-trees are not the building-places, and it is on the latter 
that the birds are killed as they remain hovering above their nests. 


of a turkey," he could be picked out by any experienced man a 
hundred yards away, and the females were never shot. It is an 
elementary fact regarding Herons and Egrets that both sexes 
have these nuptial plumes. The writer further gave, as con- 
clusive proof of his assertions, that he had met two Frenchmen 
who said they had picked up about 100 lbs. of feathers each. 
Doubtless these were Mr. Leon Laglaize and M. Mayeul Grisol. 
For a while nothing more was heard of picked-up feathers, 
or of domesticated Egrets ; but the moulted plume, as a definite 
trade asset, was practically introduced at the time of the House 
of Lords Committee, when members of the trade, who had no 
personal knowledge of South America, diverted attention from 
Florida and from the " artificial " osprey to this Une of defence. 

Mr. Leon Laglaize. 

Shortly afterwards the country was flooded with a circular 
headed " Importation of Plumage Bill. How the Osprey feathers 
are procured." It purported to have been received from a Mr. 
Leon Laglaize (who was described as ** an eminent ornithologist 
and explorer ") ; but by whom received was not stated. Mr. 
Laglaize is beHeved to be a collector and buyer for a European 
feather-firm. A well-known member of the principal French 
Ornithological Society writes to the R.S.P.B., under date Feb. 
7th, 1911 : " Do you know anything about Mr. Laglaize, who has, 
I understand, pubhshed a book in England in support of the 
plumage trade? They say that he is a traveller; maybe, but 
also a plume-collector." 

The Heron's Nest. 

Mr. Laglaize's statements have been already referred to (p. 17), 
and will be further dealt with presently. Among them is the 
following : 

** After the breeding season, when the young ones leave their nests, the 
abandoned nests are searched and a valuable amount of feathers is collected 
there ; the feathers have been skilfully rolled in to furnish and soften the 
interior of the nest. These nest feathers are of the best kind, for they have 
been pulled off by the bird itself before laying the eggs." 

All the Heron tribe, as naturalists are aware, make loosely con- 
structed nests of dead sticks, and never use feathers for a lining 
That they should be described as plucking out their own back 


plumes for this purpose was so absurd a fiction that it is judiciously 
omitted from the testimony of Mr. Laglaize which is printed in 
" The Feather Trade." However, it is evidently considered to 
be too good a story to be wholly lost, and so part of the statement 
is adopted by the trade's second witness M. Mayeul Grisol, but 
is transferred to another bird, the ** tordito," which is des- 
cribed as lining its nest with quantities of Egret feathers. 
These, it is said, are, after the young have flown, disentangled 
and collected by the hunters ; the bird, according to M. Grisol, 
builds its nest at the season when the Egrets are moulting, and 
the delicate filaments remain none the worse for the rearing 
upon them of a family of young birds ! 

Little need be said with respect to the testimony of M. Grisol, 
who states that he is personally interested in the plumage-trade 
and himseK a dealer and collector of Egret plumes. His general 
assertion is that the feathers from Venezuela " are for the greater 
part gathered plumes, and it is exceptional for them to come from 
the few birds that the natives have killed for food." That 
natives kill but few of these birds for food is undoubtedly true. 

Evidence of recent Travellers. 

Here may be cited the words of two recent travellers who are 
not associated with the feather- trade : 

" Among the most important articles of export from 
Ciudad Bolivar are .... and feathers. Of the last item 
the quantity is amazing when one considers what a slaughter 
of the feathered tribe it impHes. We met a Frenchman here 
who was just booking for shipment to Paris several hundred 
thousand Egrets, the result of a three years' hunt in 
the forests and plains of the Orinoco basin. But 
he was not the only one engaged in this wholesale 
slaughter of birds. There were many others, and their 
work of despoihng the tropics of their most attractive 
ornaments extends to all the vast regions on both sides of 
the equator. The small Egret A. candissima, which supplies 
the most valuable plumes, and the large Egret A. garzetta, 


which produces the coarser feather, are the principal victims. 
As only a few plumes from the backs of the birds are taken, 
one can readily see what terrific slaughter is required to meet 
the demands of the markets of the world. The worst feature 
about the business is that the birds are killed during the 
mating and breeding season. Already the result is manifest 
in the rapidly diminishing numbers of Egrets that frequent 
the garceros, the name given to the places where they nest 
and rear their young." — " Up the Orinoco and Down the 
Magdalena," by H. J. Mozans, A.M., Ph.D. 1910. 

Mr. Mozans, it is clear, heard and saw nothing of " picked 
up " plumes. 

" The beauty of a few feathers on their backs will be the 
cause of their (the Egrets') extinction. . . . The graceful 
plumes which they doubtless admire in each other appealed 
to the vanity of the most destructive of animals, and they 
are doomed because the women of civilized countries con- 
tinue to have the same fondness for feathers and ornaments 
characteristic of the savage tribes." — " A Naturalist in the 
Guianas," by Eugene Andre : 1904. 

Evidence of Mr. Albert Pam. 

Mr. Albert Pam, a member of the Council of the Zoological 
Society of London, who has extensive knowledge and experience 
of Venezuela both as traveller and as merchant, said in evidence 
before the House of Lords Committee : 

** The birds are undoubtedly being slaughtered in very 
large numbers and in the breeding season. If you wished 
to collect feathers you would have to walk several hundred 
yards for each individual plume you picked up, and in the 
jungle of the Amazon it would be an extremely difficult 
occupation. . . The idea of their being moulted feathers 
may be absolutely set aside." 

Mr. Pam points out that an export of 1,000 kilogrammes of 
" osprey " feathers, which is, according to the traders, the average 
amount received from Venezuela in a year, would mean the 
picking up of at least two miUion and a half separate feathers 


from a vast extent of bog and jungle and swamp. Moreover", 
any such feathers are dirty and comparatively worthless. Refer- 
ring to a highly imaginary picture of Egrets and native hunters, 
which appeared on the fashion page of a London weekly journal, 
Mr. Pam added that it was a pity the artist did not go a little 
further and represent the birds as flying over the water and 
shedding their plumes carefully into the hunters' boats ! 

Protection of Herons in Apure. 

Beyond the statements of Mr. Laglaize and M. Grisol, the 
evidence brought together in " The Feather Trade " consists 
of a decree made in 1910 by the authorities of Apure' in Venezuela, 
prohibiting the shooting of Herons, and imposing a tax on all 
feathers collected. Throughout Mr. Downham's book this new 
departure of a single State is spoken of as the action of " the 
Government of Venezuela .' ' 

One statement made is as follows : 

" The Government of Venezuela has taken cognizance of the valuable 
trade in moulted plumages, and has decided to profit by the establishment 
of garceros, and at the same time to strengthen the hands of the land- 
owners and lessees by enforcing the rules they have made for themselves." 

And another is : 

" Throughout countless miles of well-nigh trackless land in the South 
American Continent, the birds exist in vast companies and are protected 
by law and custom." 

Now Apure is a district or small sub-State, consisting of one 
town San Fernando, on the junction of the Apure and Orinoco 
Rivers, and for the rest of wild jungle country very thinly 
populated and, of course, wholly unpoliced. Fifty governors 
might make decrees, but there is no one to see that they are carried 
out. The character of the land where " law and custom " is 
supposed to ensure bird-protection is indicated by the fact that 
a messenger sent by a Venezuelan merchant from Caracas to 
San Fernando (a distance of about 200 miles) travelHng overland, 
was twenty- three days on the journey. A decree of the Federal 
Government of Venezuela might, under certain circumstances, 
be a pronouncement carrying some weight ; but a decree issued 
in a small and half unexplored district is, unfortunately, prac- 
tically worthless. Who is to execute it ? - - 


History of the Decree. 

The actual history of the Apur« decree itself is this : The 
owners of garceros in the district, angered by the invasion of 
their property and the kiUing of Egrets by plume-hunters, in 
1909 addressed a petition to the Governor of the Apure Section, 
pointing out that in spite of heavy taxes levied on the owners of 
the land, the Egrets were still being exterminated. This 
document says : 

" It is a matter of frequent occurrence to see, in the months 
of June, July and August, expeditions being made in canoes 
crossing the flooded plains and killing every Egret met with. 
The owners of estates upon which there are no garceros also 
lease certain locahties, known as comedores (feeding grounds), 
or exploit them themselves with the sole aim of destroying 
the species. 

"What guarantees have we for the preservation of our 
garceros or of the Egrets that are being exterminated ? 
None indeed. But we lay ourselves open to force unless we 
hasten to pay the tax. 

*' The Guarico legislature has considered the case of the 
garceros to the extent of imposing heavy duties upon them — 
duties in many cases impossible to pay ; but it has done 
nothing to save the poor Egrets from the imminent destruc- 
tion with which they are threatened. If we continue in this 
way the White Egret will disappear within a very small 
number of years." 

What it proves. 

It is hard to see in what way this proves that law or custom 
protects the Egrets of " countless miles of well-nigh trackless 
land " from the plume-hunter. It does prove that down to 1910 
he could not be prevented from killing the nesting- birds, even 
in the small portion of land under ownership and supposed to be 
within reach of law. 

But the trade would have the pubHc believe that the 
Apure decree extends not only over the whole of Venezuela, 
but that similar protection is given to the birds in Brazil, 
Argentina and Columbia, and throughout South America. 


Birds of the Lower Amazon. 

In 1895 and 1896 Professor Emil Goeldi, author of *' The Birds 
of Brazil," and an honorary member of the British Ornithologists' 
Union, presented memorials to the State Government of Para 
against the destruction for their plumes of Herons and Ibises on 
the Lower Amazon. As director of the Pard Museum of Natural 
History, he protests " in the name of common sense against the 
barbarous destruction of Herons that is being carried on in the 
lower Amazon, and would rather resign his position than fail 
to cry out most emphatically against one of the most scandalous 
crimes that is perpetrated against Nature in this beautiful region." 
As a naturalist he characterizes the slaughter as " a vile business," 
which yet " brazen-facedly shows itself in open dayhght, desiring 
to assume in our market the appearance of a business as legiti- 
mate as any other." 

Professor Goeldi repeated his protest in 1903 : 

" The flocks of Herons are being decimated There 

are men who, every year, order a wholesale slaughter of both 
sexes, leaving the carcases to rot on the spot." 

In his earher memorial, Dr. Goeldi, misled by the canard of 
the Tunisian farm (p. 42), suggested an attempt to breed Herons 
on the Tunisian plan. But his emphatic recommendations in 
each petition are : 1st, the absolute prohibition of hunting Herons 
and Ibises from June 1st to January 31st ; 2nd, the recommenda- 
tion of nesting-places on private property to the especial pro- 
tection of the owners, and the rendering of those on public land 
inviolable ; 3rd, the laying of prohibitive duties on the feathers, 
both on those exported from Para and on those in transit. 

A Campaign a outrance. 

A further measure commended in the same memorial is this : 
" A vigorous propagandism against the use of plumes in the 
importing countries." And Professor Goeldi adds : 

*' For a long time I have been preparing to wage a cam- 
paign a outrance in this respect. I know that in regard to 
the United States of America I can rely on the support of 
scientific institutions and of the Press to combat a fashion 


that is so shocking ; and, with regard to European countries, 
there are not lacking excellent elements that will most 
cordially second my efforts." 
Since propagandism has proved insufficient, there must now 

be added to Dr. Goeldi's admonitions, the definite prohibition 

of the importation of these feathers. 

In the Argentine. 

With regard to Argentina, the Hon. Sec. of the Sociedad 
Argentina Protectora de los Animales writes from Buenos Aires, 
March 10th, 1909 : 

" I wish to state most emphatically that the reports 
circulated are not true as regards the Argentine Repubhc. 
The shooting of birds is prohibited here from 1st September 
to 31st March, but notwithstanding this, the wholesale 
■ destruction of Herons goes on, and the fact that during the 
i breeding season over six thousand kilogrammes of these 
feathers were exported is sufficient evidence of the wholesale 
destruction of these birds. ... In this country there 
are no ' farms,' nor do I beUeve that any exist under the con- 
ditions mentioned anywhere else." 

This testimony is confirmed by the President of the Society, 
Dr. Albacarrin, who says : 

*' I beg to state that the data in regard to the Argentine 
Repubhc suppHed by Mr. Laglaize are incorrect. 

" Notwithstanding the decree of the 19th September, 
1899, regulating hunting and absolutely prohibiting the 
shooting of birds useful to agriculture, these are killed in 
great quantities, without respect to the period of nesting 
and hatching. On the contrary, precisely during the period 
of nesting of the White Heron, for example, is the time that 
that bird is most sought and killed in order to obtain the 
H.M.B. Vice Consul at Cordoba (Argentina) writes, 6th Feb- 
ruary, 1909 : 

" Dr. Albacarrin 's view confirms my impression with 
regard to the report circulated by Mr. Laglaize, and the 


contents of his letter fully coincide with what I have always 
understood was and is the custom in Argentine territories 
of kiUing these birds (Herons and Egrets) at nesting-time 
for their plumes." 

Further evidence is contained in a letter, dated November 
29th, 1908, from Mr. J. Quelch, B.Sc. (Lond.), formerly curator 
British Guiana Museum, Adviser to the Government for the 
granting of licences to kill Wild Birds, and examiner of all collec- 
tions thus made, late C.M.Z.S., South America : 

" My experience, directly as an eye-witness, of the condi- 
tions under which osprey plumes are obtained in Tropical 
America for export, is so different from that of Mr. Laglaize, 
that it is difficult to know what to think of his statements. 

" During a residence of seventeen years in British Guiana, 
and with an experience of travel ranging from the Eastern 
Orinoco to the borders of Surinam, and inland to Brazil and 
Venezuela, along the eastern upper waters of the Amazon 
and the Orinoco, I have never known nor heard of any such 
method of collection as that described by Mr. Laglaize. 


" Until the Government in Demerara put into force the 
stringent provisions of the Wild Birds Ordinance, a brisk 
trade was carried on by many people in the export of bird- 
skins, and largely of osprey plumes. These feathers were 
obtained by kiUing the Egrets in the breeding season, and 
cutting off the skin of the back on which the plumes were 
borne. These sections, in fact, are those sold in the trade 
at home, and they are so scarce just at present as to be worth 
as much as from 3s. lOd. to 4s. each. 

" There can be httle or no doubt that all prized osprey 
plumes are thus obtained, whether the bkds are shot with 
a gun, or with the much more effective small poisoner 
arrows of the natives, by which the remaining members of 
the heronry are not scared away by noise ; for even if shed or 
fallen plumes are really collected from the nests, or from the 
ground or water beneath the heronry, since these birds 

D 1 

always breed in the swamps where the water is either dirty 
or strongly coloured with vegetable matter, the feathers — 
even if undamaged — are likely to be so soiled and discoloured 
as to be only fit for inferior purposes, or for dyeing. 

"Certainly after the Government in Demerara had enforced 
the Ordinance for the Protection of Wild Birds, forbidding 
their slaughter under a penalty of 24 dollars for each bird or 
part of a bird, no trader has found it worth his while to 
collect plumes in the harmless manner described by Mr. 
Laglaize, even in the various convenient locahties where 
large heronries were situated." 

" A Worthless Contention." 

Letter received by Mr. Albert Pam from Dr. Hagmann, for 
many years junior curator of the Para Museum, dated May 24th, 

"It is a worthless contention on the part of importers 
that the Egrets are not killed for the purpose of obtaining 
the feathers. An absolute proof of this is the fact that the 
Egrets in China, which are closely related to the South 
American kind, have been almost entirely exterminated." 

On June 23rd, 1908, he wrote : — " As I told you in my 
letter of the 24th May, the Egrets are shot in Brazil, and in 
the whole of the rest of South America, for obtaining their 
feathers. In most cases, the men who shoot these birds are 
the collectors of rubber and other products, who look upon 
the collection of osprey plumes as a lucrative secondary 
branch of their collecting business. We can state, without 
fear of contradiction, that practically all the Egrets are 
killed, that is to say shot, in order to obtain their feathers, 
because only in this manner can the feathers of the adult 
birds, which are the most valuable, be obtained. There can, 
therefore, be no doubt that the birds are being more than 
decimated, and will soon be exterminated. It would, there- 
fore, be a greatly desirable achievement if the Enghsh ParHa- 
ment could take steps to prevent the slaughter in such huge 
quantities of these Egrets." 


" No Cast Plumes." 

Letter from Mr. H.E. Dresser (author of "The Birds of Europe") 
commenting, on November 16th, 1908, on the lett&c from Mr. 
Laglaize : 

" All I can say is, that I do not beheve the statements in 
it. When in America many years ago I visited large breeding 
colonies of Egrets, where at least 500 to 1,000 pairs were 
breeding, and certainly when the young were hatched I 
could not have picked up any cast plumes, and I do not 
beheve that the birds moult till after they have left their 
breeding haunts. Not very long ago, I visited a breeding 
colony of about 200 pairs of Lesser Egrets in the Herzegovina, 
in company with Mr. Othmar Reiser, the chief of the Museum 
at Sarajevo, and we certainly found no cast plumes." 

To this Mr. Dresser adds (March 17, 1911) : 

** I have visited many nesting-places and have never 
picked up or seen plumes on the ground or in the lining of 

Professor Goeldi writes (March 26, 1911) : 

" The tremendous disorder and dirt on the ground all 
over the area where there is a colony of Heron-nests 
defies description, and the idea that osprey-feathers could 
be picked up there in a proper condition can only be set 
forth by somebody who never made a step in such a 

"Shot at their Nests/* 

Letter from Mr. Eagle Clarke, Director of the Royal Scottish 
Museum, Edinburgh, October 18th, 1899 : 

" On the Lower Danube I witnessed the wholesale destruc- 
tion of Egrets and Herons and Ibises for the sake of their 
plumes. This was accompHshed by a party of plume- 
hunters from Vienna, who, in one morning, shot 2,000 of 
these beautiful birds at their nests, I saw it done, and I 
visited the camp of the hunters, and saw all the poor birds 
laid out, and the men busily engaged stripping off their 
dorsal plumes — Ospreys, Egrets, or Aigrettes." 




The statements of the trade with regard to Florida and its 
Egrets are as follows : 

"It is, no doubt, true that the Egret at one time existed in very large 
numbers in Florida. The birds exist still in numerous swamps known 
as the Everglades, but there has never been any supply of importance 

from those parts American commercial development is entirely 

responsible for the disappearance of the White Heron from its old-time 
haunts ; the feather-trade is not." — " The Feather Trade,'* pp. 40, 102. 

" They were not exterminated ; they migrated. You might just as well 
say that because you do not see foxes on Hampstead Heath, foxes are 
exterminated." — Mr. Downham, before the House of Lords Committee, 

*' The Egret . . . thrives to-day in the remote Everglades of Florida 
and in Southern States. . . . Naturally enough these Egrets are not 
to be encountered in the beaten paths of the United States tourist." — " The 
Feather Trade," p. 14. 

" There never were many Egrets in Florida. You can soon exterminate 
a small number of birds in a small part of the country. If there were 
Egrets in the Isle of Wight they would soon be exterminated." — Mr. G. K. 
Dunstall, before the H.L. Committee. 

" The tale about the birds being shot at breeding time is a fairy myth." 

Mr. Weiler, before the H.L. Committee. 

The testimony of ornithologists with many years' experience 
of the place and conditions of which they write, is as follows. 
It has been published on the Continent, and in the State where 
tliese things have happened ; and it has never been refuted : 

Extracts from the Journal of the late Mr. W. E. D. Scott, member 
of the American Ornithologists' Union, published in the **Auk " 

(the organ of the A.O.U.) in 1887 : 

(A summary of Mr. Scott's papers was read by Professor 
Newton at the annual meeting of the Society for the Protection 
of Birds, in 1893, and pubhshed by the Society (Leaflet No. 7). 

" 4:th May, 1887.— Charlotte Harbour. Only a few ye 
as;o bird-hfe so abundant that it would be difficult to ex 
gerate the numbers. Captain Baker said that about si 


acres were so covered with White Ibis that ' it looked from a 
distance as if a big white sheet had been thrown over the 
mangroves.' SaiUng to-day over forty miles, I did not see 
a place that was occupied by even a few birds. Postmaster 
and others all agreed that for the past two years birds had 
been so persecuted to get their ' plumes ' for the northern 
market, that they were practically exterminated. Birds 
were killed, plumes taken from the back, head, and breast, 
and carcase thrown to ' Buzzards ' (i.e. Vultures)." 

" Sth May, — ^Macleod Island, great breeding-place of Red- 
dish Egret. ' Found a huge pile of half -decayed birds , lying on 
the ground, which had been killed a day or two. All of them 
had the ' plumes ' taken, with a patch of skin from the back, 
and some had the wings cut off. I counted over 200 birds 
so treated. Within the last few days it had been almost 
destroyed, hundreds of old birds having been killed, and 
thousands of eggs broken. I do not know of a more horrible 
and brutal exhibition than that which I witnessed here. . . " 

^'I2th May. — "We found in camp Mr. Frank Johnson, who 
is a professional ' bird-plumer.' Snowy Heron, American Egret, 
and Reddish Egret brought the highest prices, but he killed 
almost anything that wore feathers. He said he wished there 
was some law to protect the birds, at least during the breed- 
ing-time, but added that as everybody else was * pluming ' he 
had made up his mind that he might have his share. He was 
killing birds and making plumes now for Mr. J. H. Batty, of 
New York City, who employed many men along the entire 
GuK Coast from Cedar Keys to Key West, particularly for 
Herons, Spoonbills, and showy birds. He told me of the 
enormous breeding places that had formerly been the homes 
of the birds of this region. Now most of them were entirely 
deserted, and the number still resorted to yearly becoming 
smaller. ' It was easy to find thousands of birds five or 
six years back, where absolutely none now existed.' My own 
observation leads me to agree with this statement, but in 
fact the destruction must have been greater than can be realized, ^^ 
" 27th May, — Mr. Frank Higel told me the same story of 
extermination I had already heard so many times — two large 


/rookeries' of Herons, where we were now anchored, but 
broken up by plume-hunters, and it was impossible to find 
any breeding or roosting in this vicinity." 

*' 2^ih May. — Saratosa — All birds killed off by plume- 

"It is scarcely necessary to draw any conclusions or 
inferences. This great and growing evil speaks for itself. 
I have the names and addresses of some fifty dealers in 
various towns in Florida and the principal cities of the 
country. Merchants in New York and other centres are 
bujdng every month the skins and plumes of Florida birds, 
he price paid for such material, notwithstanding the efforts 
made to create sympathy for the birds, and a feehng against 
u sing the feathers for hats and other decorative purposes, is 
ach year becoming higher, showing how great is the demand 
and how profitable the traffic to these men-milhners." 

From a paper read by Mr. Gilbert Pearson, member of the 
American Ornithologists' Union, at the World's Congress on 
Ornithology, at Chicago, in 1897 : 

" I visited a large colony of Herons on Horse Hummock 
(Central Florida), on April 27th, 1888. Several hundred 
pairs were nesting there at the time. . . . Three years 
later I again visited the heronry, but the scene had changed. 
Not a Heron was visible. The call had come from northern 
cities for greater quantities of Heron plumes for milhnery. 
The plume-hunter had discovered the colony, and a few 
shattered nests were all that was left to tell of the once 
populous colony. The few surviving tenants, if there were 
any, had fled in terror to the recesses of wilder swamps. 
A few miles north of Waldo, in the flat pine region, our 
party came one day upon a little swamp where we had been 
told Herons bred in numbers. Upon approaching the place 
the screams of young birds reached our ears. The cause of 
this soon became apparent by the buzzing of green-flies 
and the heaps of dead Herons festering in the sun, with the 
back of each bird raw and bleeding. . . Young Herons 
had been left by scores in the nests to perish from exposure 
and starvation." 


From "Wild Wings," by H. K. Job, member of the American 
Ornithologists' Union, State Ornithologist of Connecticut 

(Constable & Co., 1905): 

" What a spectacle ; the dark-green mangrove foHage 
dotted with Ibises of dazzhng whiteness, " Pink Curlews " 
(the local name for the Roseate Spoonbill), and blue-tinted 
Herons. Where ever I may penetrate in future wanderings, 
I can never hope to see anything to surpass, or in some 
respects to equal, that upon which I now gazed. Years ago 
such sights could be found all over Florida and other Southern 
States. This is the last pitiful remnant of hosts of innocent 
exquisite creatures slaughtered for a brutal, senseless, yes, 
criminal milhnery folly. . . Such inaccessible tangles of 
southern Florida are the last places of refuge, the last ditch 
in the struggle for existence to which these splendid species 
have been driven." (P. 54.) 

From the same work : 

" I revelled in the sights and sounds of this wonderful 
place, which is probably the largest, and perhaps the only 
large. Egret rookery in North America. The only reason 
that it exists to-day is because it is guarded by armed 
wardens who will arrest or, if necessary, shoot any person 
found upon the property with a gun. . . 

" That the work of destruction is going on with rapidity, 
one cannot fail to realize who has been to Florida. Three 
years ago, these beautiful and spectacular species were to be 
seen nearly everywhere. In 1903 I had hard work to find 
a few scattered colonies in the remotest and wildest parts 
of the State. Mr. F. M. Chapman went there last season 
and found them all practically annihilated. The same is 
becoming true even in southern Brazil." (Pp. 143-145.) 

From " Bird-Lore," 1908. 

*' Until a few years ago, thousands of Snowy Herons 
made this (Lake Malheur) their summer home, but we saw 
only one bird. The plume-hunters are responsible for the 
disappearance of this beautiful species ; they killed in the 
summer of 1886 enough birds to produce $8,000 worth of 


plumes. The slaughter was continued in 1887, 1888 and 
1889." (Lake Malheur was made a State Reservation in 
1908 on account of the extensive kilHng of Grebes, Egrets 
and Terns for their plumage.) 

Mr. F. M. Chapman, Curator of the American Museum of Natural 
History, New York, member of the A.O.U., in "Bird-Lore," 1908 : 

" My experiences have been with the larger Egret. Always 
when a rookery of promising size was reported, the plume- 
hunters arrived first, and word came that the ' long whites 
have all been shot out.' 

" The State, learning the value of the treasure of which 
she has been robbed, has passed stringent laws prohibiting 
the killing of Egrets. So, too, she has passed laws against 
pickpockets, but just so long as there are pockets worth 
picking there will be some one to pick them, and just so long 
as Egrets' plumes are worth their weight in gold there will 
be someone to supply them until the last plume has found 
its way from the bonnet to the ash-barrel." 

From "Bird-Lore," 1909: 

" During the summer of 1908 two small colonies of Snowy 
Egrets were discovered on the South CaroHna coast and 
every effort was made to give them complete protection. 
Notwithstanding all that was done, both of these rookeries 
were ' shot out ' quite recently." 

Mr. J. A. Dimock, in " Bird- Lore," 1909: 

" Within my own recollection the trees on the banks of 
the bays and rivers of the Florida peninsula were aUve with 
birds of many varieties. As night approached the air was 
filled with birds on their way to their homes in the big 
rookeries. Often the f ohage of a key was hidden by the mass 
of birds, and the island made to look like a huge snow-drift. 
The small remnant has retreated to the fastnesses of the 
Big Cypress Swamp and the unexplored Everglades ; but 
even here the hunters are following. . . Every allegation 
to the contrary notwithstanding, the aigrette of commerce 
is obtained only by shooting parent-birds at the nesting 
season." (See also pp. 8, 22.) 




The spokesman of the plume- trade brings two direct accusations, 
equally unwarranted and equally incorrect, against the Royal 
Society for the Protection of Birds. One is concerned with 
Australia, the other with India. A series of photographs showing 
" The Story of the Egret " was sent to the Society by Mr. A. H. 
Mattingley, Hon. Sec. of the Australasian Ornithologists' Union. 
The photographs had been exhibited with useful results in the 
large towns of Austraha, and it was hoped that this pictorial 
representation of facts might have as great an effect in England. 
The hope has been to a large extent realized, the photographs, 
and the lantern sHdes made from them, having attracted much 

" The Feather Trade " says : 

** The photographs referred to and issued by the Royal Society for the 
Protection of Birds have nothing whatever to do with the collection of 
plumes for trade purposes. They were obtained in Australia, where there 
is not, and never has been, any collection of Egret feathers for trade pur- 
poses." — ^p. 27. 

" ... The photographs, to which the term ' bogus ' might reasonably 
be applied." — p. 28. 

This is the account given by Mr. Mattingley in the " Emu," the 
official organ of the Australasian Ornithologists' Union, 1908. 
So far as is known, no one in Austraha has contradicted it : 

" . . . . Paddhng through the timber we were able to 
ascertain the extent of the heronry of White Egrets, and 
computed their number to be about 150, the remnant of a 
once larger colony, which, we were informed, must have 
totalled originally about 300 birds, but which, owing to the 
demand for their back plumes for ladies' hats, had been 
decimated by plume-hunters. The only method by which 
the hunters are able to obtain Egrets' plumes in^quantities 
is to shoot the birds on their nests, since at this period they 
are more readily approached, and allow a person to get within 


gunshot I determined to revisit the locaHty during 

my Christmas hoHdays. . . . There, strewn on the floating 
water- weed and also on adjacent logs, were at least fifty 
carcases of large White and smaller Plumed Egrets — nearly 
one-third of the rookery, perhaps more — the birds having 
been shot off their nests containing young." 

Colonel Ryan, President of the Australasian Ornithologists' 
Union, gave the following evidence before the House of Lords 
Committee, 1908 : 

" I can give you a very good example of what came under 
my own personal notice about four years ago, of a rookery 
where two young men went down and destroyed, and I think 
they sold over 400 plumes. The destruction of 400 birds 
meant, of course, the destruction of four times that number, 
because they were all breeding at the time. The Ornitho- 
logical Union in AustraHa has done everything it possibly 
could to bring these facts under the various State Govern- 
ments ; and last year I knew of another rookery in New 
South Wales, where some brigands went down and destroyed, 
I think, about fifty birds. We sent a photographer up, who 
got a very interesting series of photographs taken. We had 
these photographs reproduced in as many papers as we could 
throughout AustraHa, for the purpose of drawing the atten- 
tion of the pubHc to the manner in which this destruction 
was going on." 

Whether or not Egret plumes from Australia come, directly 
or indirectly, into the London market seems to be of small 
consequence, and does not affect the character of the trade 
allegations. The photographs were taken after a plume- 
hunters' raid, and evidence shows that plume-hunters' 
methods are much the same the world over. 




Mr. Downham says that the action of the Society for the 
Protection of Birds in " obtaining " the Notification issued by 
the Government of India in 1902, " can hardly be criticized too 
severely," and adds that *' no greater act of ' smuggling ' in 
connexion with this trade has ever been perpetrated than in 
obtaining the issue of the Notification prohibiting the export 
of plumage and bird-skins." 

Bird Protection in India. 

The facts are these : The question of the protection of wild 
birds in India, irrespective of the game question, was opened by 
a letter addressed to the Government of Madras by Surgeon- 
General Bidie, C.I.E., F.Z.S., in 1881. He brought to notice the 
indiscriminate slaughter of birds, for the sake of their plumage, 
which was taking place throughout the Madras Presidency, and 
claimed protection for these helpless creatures mainly in the 
interests of agriculture. 

The Government of Madras, in forwarding this letter to the 
Government of India, remarked that they were ahve to the 
necessity of the adoption, in the interests of agriculture, of some 
vigorous measures to control the destruction of birds, which 
appeared to be going on throughout India, and they, therefore, 
deemed the matter worthy of consideration with a view to a 
general Act being passed. In 1884 the East India Association 
of London passed a resolution declaring it very advisable that 
some regulations should be framed and put in force for protecting 
the wild birds of India. In 1887 a Wild Birds Protection Act 
was passed, which, though insufiicient, was regarded as the fore- 
runner of a more complete measure. It empowered Local 
Governments to make rules prohibiting the possession or sale 
during its breeding season of any kind of wild bird recently killed 


or taken, and also the importation of the plumage of any kind 
of wild bird during such season ; the term " wild bird " to include 
peacocks and game-birds. From 1887 to 1900 the Government 
received many representations and appeals from various societies, 
and from both Indian and European officials as well as from 
private individuals, on the subject of bird protection. In con- 
sequence, on August 31st, 1900, a circular was issued from Simla 
to all Local Governments and Administrations, inviting their 
attention to the Act of 1887, and asking for their views as to the 
sufficiency of the measures in force to prevent the destruction 
of the birds of India. 

The ^'Madras Mail" (March 27th and April 18th, 1900) spoke out 
without hesitation on the matter, supporting the proposal for 
a general prohibition of the export of bird- skins : 

" The dealers at Indian ports, and certain merchants and 
brokers in Europe or elsewhere, might indulge in vituperative 
language, but as, with the market peremptorily and per- 
manently closed, the demand for skins would cease, there 
would be no inducement to supply skins, or no temptation 
to slay birds wholesale. The cutting off of the supply from 
India might compel the fair votaries of fashion at a distance 
to pay more for the gratification of their taste for feathers 
than they now do. But India need not indulge in any 
sympathy on their account. What she has great occasion 
to do is to prevent a state of things that causes a deplorable 
sacrifice of human food, and the materials for human raiment, 
besides inflicting penury on individuals, and great loss on 
the State. . . The ruthless destruction of insectivorous 
birds with gay plumage causes such waste, since it deprives 
growing food-crops of the protection afforded by a watchful 
and efficient bird-poHce against multitudinous insect thieves.'' 

The issue of the Notification (Customs Circular No. 13 of 1902) 
was the result of the Government enquiry. 

Mr. Downham's grievance evidently is that the men whose 
depredations the Notification was designed to stop, were not 
asked to be consenting parties to the action agreed upon by a 
responsible Government after full investigation. 


The writer of " The Feather Trade " asserts : 

" I can assure you, most solemnly, that the trade has no Agents who 
are known or encouraged to poach upon preserves or reservations. That 
such poaching goes on is undoubted. Men who are working in the virgin 
lands where wild birds are plentiful will kill what they can, where they 
can, and when they can, and they will make the best use they can of the 
plumages, whether there is or is not a market.'* 

If there were no market for plumages, what would be " the 
best use " of them ? It is not within common experience that 
the existence of receivers is unconnected with the business of 
thief. Whether or not the trade directly control the invasion 
of preserves and the breaking of export laws, it is certain that 
they receive the goods so obtained, and receive them under such 
conditions that they cannot even allege ignorance. 

In 1902 the Government of India made the export of skins 
and plumes from India illegal. Naturalists and others interested 
in the matter saw with surprise that in spite of this prohibition 
the feathers of birds peculiar to the East Indies, and of others 
strongly suspected to come from thence, continued to be offered 
for sale in Mincing Lane. 

How Bird- Feathers Come from India. 

The explanation of this was furnished by the Board of Customs 
to the House of Lords Committee in 1908. It then appeared that 
between December 20th, 1907, and February 15th, 1908, twenty- 
three cases of dead bird-skins from India were imported a» 
cowhair or horsehair ; that in March, 6,400 further skins were 
imported hidden under a layer of horsehair, and described as 
horsehair ; that " o^prey " feathers from India were sent by 
parcel post, declared as dress material ; that smugghng was also 
carried on by way of the Straits Settlement, in order to evade 
examination by the Customs officers. 

It does not appear that the trade at this end refused to receive^ 
to sell, or to make their profit on these smuggled goods. At the 


sales in February and April of that year there were large suppHes 
of Egret feathers, Impeyan Pheasants, Parrots, Kingfishers, 
E/ingnecks, and other birds from India. There were further 
offers of East Indian birds at the sales in 1909. 

Birds also come from our Colonies in spite of Colonial laws 
prohibiting the killing or the export of those very species. 

" The Feather Trade " paragraph might more suitably read : 

" That poaching and smuggHng go on is undoubted. Plume- 
hunters and plume-traders will kill what they can, where they 
can, and when they can, and will make all the profit they can, so 
long as there is a market." 


By Mr. Walter Goodfellow, F.Z.S., M.B.O.U. 

Since returning from Dutch New Guinea in February (1911), 
my attention has been called to a paper by Mr. A. E. Pratt, 
published by the feather- trade, defending the slaughter of 
Paradise Birds for millinery purposes. As Mr. Pratt has made 
several journeys to New Guinea, I am surprised that he should 
state that these birds " are in no danger of either extermination 
or serious reduction," and I can only think either that, being an 
entomologist and not an ornithologist, he has paid no serious 
attention to the matter, or else that he has personal reasons for 
defending the trade. 

My experience has been very different. Since 1903 I have 
been almost constantly in one part or another of New Guinea, 
and the adjacent islands, and from the first time I set foot in 
the country I have been aghast at the wholesale slaughter of 
these wonderful birds, and, when re- visiting the same locaHties. 
later, at their complete extermination or greatly diminished 
numbers. I could quote districts not " in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of towns and trading stations " where their call is now 
never heard ; but there seems no reason why they should not 
live even in the vicinity of man. In British New Guinea I have 
seen several nests of the raggiana in coffee-bushes close to the 
house of an EngHsh planter. 

In considering the danger of extermination, it is necessary 
to remember that no family of birds is so local. Some species 
are confined to comparatively small areas or to a single range of 
mountains, or even to a single side of the mountains ; others 
to quite small islands or small groups of islands, as in the case 



of the Greater Bird of the Aru Islands. Indeed, I can think of 
only two species which are found in Dutch, German, and British 
New Guinea — the King Bird and the Rifle Bird. The first is a 
lowland form, and the latter does not ascend beyond 3,000 feet 
at the most. The magnificent Diphyllodes magniflca is not 
" distributed over the whole of New Guinea," as Mr. Pratt 
supposes, but is confined to the N.W. parts. All the other 
forms of the bird are different local species. The danger of 
extermination of species is obviously greater the smaller their 

Without discussing such rare species as Rothschild's Paradise 
Bird, let us take the case of the more ordinary ones, such as the 
apodaj minor, rubra, and raggiana. It has been stated that as 
many skins come to the market as formerly, and that this proves 
the species is not diminishing. It proves nothing of the kind. 
It simply means that though the}^ have been wiped out in some 
districts, the shooters have penetrated further in order to get 
them. This supply may go on for a time, but it cannot go on for 
long. The Dutch line of steamers running along the north and 
west coasts now call at places which were unknown a few years 
ago, and in addition, the Chinese, Malay, and Arab traders run 
schooners of their own, to pick up the skins at still more out-of- 
the-way places. Over and over again both shooters and traders 
themselves have told me, how much more difficult the collecting 
of skins becomes, on account of the birds having been killed-off 
in the more accessible regions. 

Paradise skins may have been brought to England as long 
ago as the sixteenth century, but the craze for them is com- 
paratively modern ; and modern also is the present method of 
slaughter. Formerly the birds were irregularly killed by the 
natives with bows and arrows. Now, the slaughter is systematic. 
Professional shooters, chiefly Malays from the Celebes and the 
various Moluccan Islands, flock over to New Guinea, armed with 
shot guns, and scour the districts far and wide, each year being 
obliged to go further afield to obtain the supply. 


Five years ago I spent six months in the Humboldt's Bay 
district, and quite thirty such shooters were there then, some 
of whom remained all the year through. Each of these shooters 
had several natives in his employ, and they would be away in the 
bush probably three months at a stretch. As the boats call there 
every month the skins are sent away as quickly as possible, for 
the agents would not (as Mr. Pratt leads us to suppose) be such 
fools as to keep these where they quickly deteriorate ; neither 
would they send to Humboldt's Bay skins collected outside the 
radius of that port of call. 

The collecting area, moreover, is not so large as Mr. Pratt 
tries to make the public believe. It is true that " one may sail 
for forty days among the islands," but not along the Dutch 
New Guinea coast, and that is where the birds come from. Mr. 
Pratt speaks of the enormous areas of unexplored land between 
Kapia and the Princesse Marianne Strait. It is from this part 
of the country I have just returned, and it may well remain 
unexploited so far as Paradise Birds are concerned, because it 
would never pay the shooters to go there. It is out of the region 
of Paradisea minor, which is certainly not " found on all the 
Dutch New Guinea coast," as Mr. Pratt states. Its place is 
here taken by the P. novae- guinae, a far rarer bird, and hitherto 
not even represented in the British Museum collection. Further 
south, on the enormous flat regions around Merauke, no Paradise 
Birds are found at all ; so that even in New Guinea there are vast 
districts unsuited for them. 

I have never seen or heard any species of the genus Paradise 
so high up as 4,500 feet. My experience has been that about 
3,000 feet is quite their highest hmit. 

About four years ago I obtained from the Collector of Customs 
at Dobo in the Arus, the number of skins of the Greater Bird 
(P. apoda) exported from there the previous year. It amounted 
roughly to about 1,100. By an arrangement with the traders 
there, a firm in Makassar now takes the whole of the season's 
output. When I was staying at Makassar last November- 1 asked 



the buyer of this firm how many apodas they had received 
last year, and he said between three and four hundred. This 
does not mean that the birds have been less shot than formerly, 
for they were never so much sought after as they have been in 
the last few years. It means that the birds are getting scarcer. 

On previous occasions in Dobo I have seen both females and 
young males among the skins. A Chinese trader in Weigiou, 
through whose hands most of the ruhras pass, once told me that 
there was a demand for immature birds of that species, as the 
heads and throats are so beautiful; and he had a great number 
of them among his skins which I looked through. Therefore, 
I am unable to agree with Mr. Pratt that " the birds will thrive 
because the conditions under which they are killed preserve 
both the females and the young males." It has been supposed 
that the males attain their full plumage when four years old, 
and therefore have probably nested for two or three seasons 
before then. This is all supposition, and latterly I have had 
reason for doubting it ; having examined several specimens 
which, according to their phase of plumage, were at least two 
years old, but which showed no signs of being in a breeding 
condition. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the raggiana, 
the Blue Bird, and the Rifle Bird,we know nothing of the nesting- 
habits of the Paradise Birds. As these lay only one egg at a time, 
or at most two, they cannot reproduce very rapidly. 

I have sometimes been told that Paradise plumes are sure 
to go out of fashion for a time, and this will give the birds a period 
of rest in which to increase. I am sorry to say we cannot delude 
ourselves that this will be so. When the price of the skins is 
low over here, the houses in Ternate, Bonda, and Makassar are 
every bit as energetic in obtaining the skins, which they keep 
back until fashion turns again. At these times they have the 
excuse of low prices to pay the shooters less, and as the latter 
are always kept in their employers' debt, they are forced to go 
out as usual. 

Paradisea johiensis (not '' paradisomis ") may only be an 
island form of P. minor, but it is far more beautiful, having the 

[With the Hon. Secretary's Compliments.] 

" Feathers and Facts " is the latest and most 
comprehensive statement issued by the Royal 
Society for the Protection of Birds on the subject 
of the trade in the plumage of wild birds. It 
supplies, in the first place, a brief history of the 
growth of the trade and of the corresponding 
growth of expostulation and condemnation, on the 
part of ornithologists and other naturalists, from 
the time when Professor Newton first expressed 
in the " Times " his horror on perusing a catalogue 
of a London feather sale, and the Journal of the 
American Ornitholigists' Union described the 
slaughter going on in Florida, down to the days of 
tho Indian ordinance against the exportation of bird 
skins and the adoption by the House of Lords of 
a Bill to prohibit the importation of wild birds' 
plumage into Great Britain. The main purpose of 
the pamphlet is, however, to disprove various 
statements made by the trade in their own defence. 
One of the earliest and most successful allegations 
regarding the " osprey," consisted in the well-known 
story that the plumes were " artificial," and not 
composed of feathers at all. This forms a curious 
chapter in trade history. " Thousands of women 
have been deceived into buying egret feathers by 
the false assertion that they were not egret feathers, 
and even now the fable lingers in provincial shops. 
From the first day when milliners were instructed 
to sell their ospreys as ' artificial,' if they could not 
sell them as ' real,' to the day when a trade witness 
before the House of Lords Committee clung to the 
expiring fraud, but could not produce one specimen 
of the article for examination, no ' artificial osprey ' 
was ever placed in an ornithologist's hand." Such 
a manufacture, it is pointed out, would by no means 
serve the purposes of the traders in plumage, whose 
aim is naturally to sell their own wares. The place 
of the so-called artificial osprey has been taken by 
the plume that is said to be made of moulted 
feathers " picked up " by the hunters. The 
Society's pamphlet points out that this theory, as 
set forth by the trade, rests on the statements of 
two French travellers, neither of them an ornitho- 
logist, neither of them wholly unconnected with the 
trade, and that their assertions are discredited 
by the evidence of the British Minister in Venezuela, 
the President and Hon. Secretary of tho Argentina 
Society for the Protection of Animals, Professor 
Goeldi, author of " The Birds of Brazil," and 
director of the Para Museum of Natural History, 
Mr. J. Quelch, B.Sc, formerly curator of the British 
Guiana Museum, and by recent travellers who have 
an intimate knowledge of the country in which the 
birds nest and of the manner in which the feathers 
are obtained. It is also pointed out that while 
the trade allege that " the shooting of an egret is 
now an indictable offence in Venezuela," and declare 

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longest plumes of all the long-plumed species ; and for this 
reason, coupled with the high prices paid for it, has been more 
sought after, so that now very few are taken. This is the ground 
for Mr. Pratt's remark that there is " so little trade in this bird." 
The regions around Ansols and Jobi Island having been depleted 
a few years back the steamers commenced to call at two new port* 
Wool and Pom, and most of the traders removed to those places. 
Mr. Pratt seems to think that all the mountain species at any 
rate are free from danger of extermination. Before the shooting 
was closed in the British territory, no mountains were too 
inaccessible for the shooters. I myself have met men coming 
back from the high parts of the Owen Stanley range, ten and 
twelve days' journey inland, whose catch has been composed 
almost solely of Meyer's Sickle Bill, the Princess Stephanie, 
Lawes, and the Prince Rudolph or Blue Bird — the very ones 
whose " inaccessible " homes Mr. Pratt considers sufficient 
protection. I know for a fact that immature Blue Birds have 
been offered for sale at the Sale-rooms in London. Two years 
ago I visited the native haunts of this species, in order to try 
to get a few living specimens. After many weeks' search, two 
only were discovered. Everywhere I met with the same answer 
from the natives : " Ah So-and-so's boys were here, and they 
killed them all off." The late Mr. Stalker found the same thing 
in the Mount Kebia district, the part which Mr. Pratt quotes. I 
may point out that Lawes Bird of Paradise is not found in Dutch 
New Guinea at all, but is confined solely to parts of the British 
division. Guns are not at all necessary to capture any of the 
Six-Plumed species, as they are probably the most easily snared 
of all birds by the natives. Three years ago there was a sudden 
demand for the metaUic breast-patch of this species, and great 
numbers were caught. 

Too much reliance cannot be placed upon the supposed pro- 
tection existing in British Papua. The law requires to be much 
more vigorously enforced. This is proved by the fact that 
raggiana skins still come to the Sale-rooms, though this species 
does not exist out§ide the British parts. 


With regard to Dutch New Guinea, in December, 1909, when 
I was going out with the British Ornithological Expedition to 
the west coast of New Guinea, I heard that the Dutch were going 
to stop the shooting not only of Paradise Birds, but of other 
species ; but such a hue and cry was raised by the traders in 
some of the Maluccas, who said they could not pay their taxes 
if the shooting were stopped, that the Government had not 
strength to withstand their demands. The shooting is now closed 
for six months in the year on the north coast, and for six months 
on the west coast ; but these two seasons coincide with the time 
when the Paradise Birds are out of plumage, so that the business 
goes on just the same, and the arrangement suits the traders 
very well. 

I have said that the hunters are penetrating into the less 
accessible regions to get skins. This opening up of the country- 
is not altogether beneficial to the natives, for the traders are not 
the most desirable or scrupulous of men in their dealings, and in 
many districts they have introduced spirits and opium as an 
exchange for skins, with degrading results. To see this, it is only 
necessary to go to the Maclure GuK, Sorong, or the Aru Islands. 
I will not touch upon diseases which the Chinese have chiefly 
been the means of introducing, although much might be said 
aboutthis too. 

In conclusion I may say that I fully agree with Mr. Pratt's 
remark as to the urgent need of protection for the Crowned 
Pigeons, but the slaughter of the Paradise Birds is responsible, 
in a great measure, for the rapid extermination of these birds 
also. Owing to the shooters having to go so far afield for the 
former they kill off the Pigeons which might otherwise find 
sanctuary in those parts ; the Pigeons aloue would not have 
tempted the shooters to penetrate so far, 


Mr. Downham and Dutch New Guinea. 

In connexion with the destruction of Paradise Birds in 
Dutch New Guinea, the following two statements made by 
Mr. Downham may be compared : the one contradicting and 
ridiculing the other. 

Mr. Downham before the House of Lords Committee, June 24th, 

" The shooting of Birds-of -Paradise is controlled, to a very large extent, 
by the Government of Dutch New Guinea. . . The Dutch Government 
very recently offered to sell to one firm the whole of the shooting rights 
of Dutch New Guinea, but they asked such a price for it that it would be 
impossible to accept their terms, unless they could be sure of killing every 

Mr. Downham, in " The Feather Trade," p. 44 : 

" The freedom with which ridiculous or misleading statements are 
bandied about may be gauged from some of recent date. In a lecture 
before the Selborne Society it was stated that ' the Dutch Government 
had offered to one firm of feather merchants the right to kill all the Birds- 
of -Paradise in Dutch New Guinea.' The Dutch Government promptly 
denied the absurd 'statement." 



The following are the principal clauses of the " Bill to 
Prohibit the Importation of the Plumage and Skins of Wild 
Birds," which was passed by the House of Lords on July 21st, 
and read a first time in the House of Commons on July 22nd, 
1908 :— 

1. Any person who, after the commencement of this Act, shall 
have in his possession for the purpose of sale or exchange the plumage, 
skin, or body, or any part of the plumage, skin, or body, of any dead 
wild bird imported or brought into the United Kingdom on or after 
the fu'st day of January, 1909, which is not included in the schedule 
to this Act, or otherwise exempted from the operation of this Act, 
shall be guilty of an offence, and shall on summary conviction be hable 
for the first offence to a penalty of not exceeding five pounds, and for 
every subsequent offence to a penalty of not exceeding twenty-five 
pounds, and in every case the Court shall order the forfeiture and 
destruction of the articles in respect of which the offence has been 

2. The Privy Council may at any time, by notice published in 
the London Gazette, add to, or remove from, the schedule to this Act 
the name of any other foreign wild bird, and thereupon the provisions 
of this Act shall take effect as if such bird had been included in or 
removed from the schedule to this Act. 

5. (1) Subject to the provision in sub-section (2) of this section 
nothing in this Act shall apply to — 

(a) Wild birds imported or brought into the United Kingdom for use 

as articles of diet ; 

(b) Anything done by virtue of a Hcence issued from time to time 

by the Board of Trade under such conditions and regulations as 
they may prescribe for the purpose of supplying specimens of 
any birds not included in the schedule to any natural history 
or other museum or for the purpose of scientific research ; or 

(c) The plumage, skin, or body, or any parts thereof, of any bird not 

included in the schedule to this Act and forming part of the 
wearing apparel being bona fide the property of and either actually 
in the use of or accompanying any person entering the United 
KiQgdom ; or 

(d) The plumage of any bird not included in the schedule to this Act 
imported or brought into the United Kingdom for use solely in 
manufacture of flies for the capture of any species of fish. 



1. Ostriches. 2. Eider Ducks. 



The following are the principal clauses of the " Bill to 
Prohibit the Sale, Hire, or Exchange of the Plumage and Skins 
of Certain Wild Birds," which was introduced into the House 
of Commons by Mr. Alden, and read a first time on February 
22nd, 1911 : 

1. (1) Any person who, after the commencement of this Act, 
shall have in his possession for the purpose of sale or exchange the 
plumage or skin, or any part of the plumage or skin, of any dead wild 
bird imported or brought into the United Kingdom on or after the 
first day of January one thousand nine hundred and twelve y which is 
included in the schedule to this Act, or not exempted from the opera- 
tion of this Act, shall be guilty of an offence, and shall on summary 
conviction be Hable for the first offence to a penalty of not exceeding 
five pounds, and for every subsequent offence to a penalty of not 
exceeding tiventy-five pounds, and in every case the court shall order 
the forfeiture and destruction of the articles in respect of which the 
offence has been committed. 

2. and 5. Same intention as in Bill of 1908. 

Birds-of -Paradise. 
Humming Birds. 

With the following exceptions : — 

The Green Pheasant, the Ring-necked Pheasant, and the 
Common Pheasant. 

Crowned Pigeons {Goiirince). 
Lyre Birds. 

Stork Tribe. 
Heron Tribe. 
Ibises and Spoonbills. 



Albacarrin, Dr., 50 

Albatross, 23, 26 

American O.U., 7 

Andr6, Eugene, 46 

Apur6, 47 

Argentina, 50 

Army Order, 13 

Artificial Ospreys, 16, 17, 31, 39 

Audubon Societies, 7, 23, 28 

"Auk," the, 8, 54 

Australia, 34, 59 

Avebury, Lord, 14 

Bailey, Vernon, 24 

Bidie, Surg.-Gen., 61 

Bent, A. C, 23 

Bill, Plumage Prohibition, 14, 30, 33, 72 

Bird-of-Paradise, 21, 26, 65 

Bird-Lore. 57, 58 

Brazil, 52, 57 

Breeding-time Slaughter, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 18, 

22, 23, 24, 46, 51, 55 et seq. 
British Guiana, 51 

New Guinea, 69 

Buckland, J., 14, 21 

Chapman, F. M., 8, 25, 58 
Childers, Lt.-Col., 13 
China, 28, 41 
Clarke, W. Eagle, 53 
Colonies, British, 34, 36 
Crowned Pigeon, 26, 70 

Danube, Herons of, 53 
Demerara, 51 
Dimock, J. A., 58 
Dresser, H. E., 53 
" Dominoes," 23 
Dutcher, W., 34 
Dutch New Guinea, 65 

" Egret, Story of the," 59 

Egrets, 8, 12, 13, 18, 22, 25, 54 

Employment Question, 30 

Emu, 24 

" Extermination," 9, 11, 20, 22, 25, 65 

Flower, Sir W., 39 
Florida, 8, 12, 22, 25, 54 
Forbush, E. H., 22 

Game-Birds, 28 

Goeldi, Dr. Emil, 49, 53 

Goodfellow, W., on Paradise Birds, 65 

Grebe, 24, 58 

Grisol, M., 45 

Hagmann, Dr., 52 

Harvie-Brown, J. A., 29 

Hawaii, 23 

Heron, see Egret 
Heron, Nest of, 18, 44 
Herzegovina, 53 
Horsehair and Ospreys, 32, 63 
Hudson, W. H., 10 
Humming-Birds, 27 

Ibis, 49, 55 

Impeyan Pheasant, 26, 64 
Importation of Plumage BUI, 14, 30, 33, 72 
India, Bird Protection in, 13, 61 
Indians, Starving, 31 

International Ornithological Conference, 

Jabiru Stork, 27 
Job, H.K., 8, 57 

Ejngfisher, 26 
Kittiwake, 7 

Labour Question, 30 
Laglaize, L., 17, 31, 44 
Lancaster, Sir E. Ray, 40 
Lilford, Lord, 11 
Little, Mrs. Archibald, 42 
Lyre-bird, 23 

" Madras Mail," 62 
Mattingley,A. H., 59 
Mozans, H. J., 46 
Moulted Plumes, 16, 18, 41 

Newton, Professor, 6, 9, 25 
North Pacific Islands, 23 

Opium in New Guinea, 70 
Ostrich Feathers 17, 30 

Pam, Albert, 46 
Paradise Birds, 21, 26, 65 
Pearson, Gilbert, 56 
Plume-Trade, 6, 16, 20, 35, 37 

sales, 6, 21, 25, 27 

Pratt, A. E. , 65 

" Public Ledger," 27 

Pycraft, W. P., 40 

Queen Alexandra, 14 
Quelch, J., 51 
Quills, 23,27 

Rare Birds, 20 

Renshaw, Dr. Graham, 24 

Rhea, 26 

Russia, 29 

Ryan, Colonel, 34, 60 

Sales of Feathers, 6, 21, 25, 27 

Scott,W.E. D., 8, 54 

Sea- Birds Preservation Act, 7 

Sennett, W., 7 

Sharpe, Dr. Bowdler, 14 

Sharpe, Montagu, 14 

Shore-Birds, 28 

Smuggling, 32, 63 

Society for the Protection of Birds, 10, 14 

Spoonbill, 25 
Stanmore, Lord, 34 
•• Story of the Egret," 59 

Terns, 23, 26 
" Times," 6, 11, 43 
Todhunter, C. G., 34 
Tunis Egret-Farm, 42 

United States, 7, 34. See Florida 

Venezuela, 18, 37, 44, et seq. 

H.B.M. Minister, 18, 37 

Virginia, 23 
Vulture Feathers, 27 

" Waste Material," 21 
" Wild Wings," 8, 57 
Willow-Grouse, 29 
Wolseley, Lord, 13 




This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

on the date to which renewed. 

Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 


Tel. No. 642-U6S 

NOV 14 19681^ 



APR ^ 2 1969 'i 

#tl6'B9 - aAi ^ 


mt'D IV JUL 

lb7V' 1 Qfi^3S 

LD 21A-45m-9,'67 

General Library 

University of California 


Y8 15946